Police chief at 7.50 pm confirms two deaths from the attack. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin visited Siam Paragon as a series of disturbing questions arose over Tuesday’s shooting. The latest news is that the 14-year-old boy may have a mental health issue linked to gaming and was showing off the 9mm Glock handgun to friends online. The Prime Minister has initially indicated that security may have to be reviewed for tourists in the kingdom with several large public holidays and festivals approaching.
There was a mass shooting in Bangkok on Tuesday perpetrated by a 14-year-old boy dressed in military gear who murdered a Chinese tourist and wounded two using a Glock handgun. Panic broke out at the upmarket Siam Paragon Shopping Centre on Rama 1 after 4.20 pm and lasted approximately 50 minutes until a police response led to the arrest of the lone perpetrator. Reports suggest that up to three people may have been killed with four injured but in a briefing, after the incident ended, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin highlighted only one fatality with the police chief later raising this to two dead.
Thai police at Pathum Wan Police Station in Bangkok detained a 14-year-old boy on Tuesday who was responsible for a terror attack at the city’s upmarket Siam Paragon Shopping Centre on Rama 1 in the heart of the Thai capital.
Panic broke out after 4.20 pm when people began stampeding for the exits after gunshots were heard and witnesses saw a figure dressed in khaki clothing including black boots, beige pants, gloves and a dark khaki jacket, opening fire and security guards at the centre.
Tourist left dead after 50 minutes of terror caused by a 14-year-old boy wearing military fatigues, a baseball cap and with a Glock 9mm handgun
According to police briefings, one person, thought to be a Chinese tourist, was killed in the attack with an additional two being injured and taken to nearby Hua Khiao Hospital.
Earlier reports had consistently suggested three were killed with four taken for treatment at the hospital while at 7.50 pm, the National Police Commissioner General Torsak Sukwimol said that there were, at that point two fatalities.
The second person to die is reported to be a man from Myanmar.
Eyewitnesses said the perpetrator appeared to have very long hair, large wide-rimmed spectacles and was wearing a brown baseball cap with an American flag emblazoned on the front with the words America on the back.
The incident caused the Metropolitan Police to put into action its emergency response plan with key police officials including Police Lieutenant General Thiti Saengsawang, the commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, rushing to the centre.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was reported to be monitoring the situation while the new National Police Chief General Torsak Sukwimol was said to be on his way.
Skytrain routed past BTS Siam during the emergency
The BTS Skytrain which runs past Siam Paragon Centre, was ordered to drive directly through with the train not stopping for some hours at Siam BTS station.
The Siam Paragon Centre itself was quickly evacuated.
Police responding to the incident from Pathum Wan Police Station and others in the area quickly reviewed CCTV images to establish the nature of the incident and the attacker’s location.
They observed one perpetrator was dressed in dark clothing wearing gloves and black boots while holding a 9mm Glock pistol.
It is thought that up to 10 rounds of ammunition were fired in total at the scene by the attacker.
Officers responding to the emergency, while securing the building and trying to ascertain any further casualties, discovered the gunman at the Siam Kempinski Hotel within the complex and managed to overpower and subdue him.
Within 50 minutes, a local police operation using CCTV had identified the attacker and brought him under control after the centre was fully evacuated
This occurred at approximately 5.10 pm and police reported that the armed perpetrator, a 14-year-old boy, surrendered to them without a struggle.
The incident in Bangkok on Tuesday comes days before the anniversary of one of the kingdom’s darkest hours when a 34-year-old former policeman, Panya Khamrab, in the Na Klang District of Nong Bua Lamphu in upper northern Thailand slaughtered two dozen children and 12 adults in a murderous rampage, before eventually killing himself and his family.
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The incident also sparked memories of Saturday, February 8th, 2020 when a rogue soldier, identified as Sergeant Major Jakapanth Thomma, killed 29 people and wounded 58 others in a day of murder and mayhem in the urban centre of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Spotlight now on gun crime in Thailand
The latest tragedy, on Tuesday, is bound to focus the spotlight on the ease with which the public can access lethal firearms in Thailand, a more dangerous country than the United States and even strife-driven Iraq based on the number of deaths per capita recorded by authorities.
This comes despite some success by the Royal Thai Police in reducing the levels of gun violence with the root of the problem lying in the country’s culture and propensity among some who lack economic opportunity or interest, to turn to violence.
The perpetrator of Tuesday’s attack was pursued and eventually arrested by a police operations team which responded quickly to events despite the panic experienced by the public.
Later on Tuesday evening, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chada Thaiset arrived at the scene and sat with police and the suspect as officers interrogated the 14-year-old boy.
Incident will be another blow to Thailand’s image in China where the public is being warned of danger
Speaking after being briefed by the police when the incident was brought under control, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin confirmed that the sole fatality, at that point, was a Chinese tourist, a woman in her 30s.
The PM said he planned to visit the centre to boost the morale of staff and told reporters that he would consider the matter further after the dust had settled following the shock of what happened.
Mr Srettha conceded that security for tourists may have to be reviewed with several key public holidays and festivals up and coming.
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The outrage will be a blow to Thailand’s efforts to promote the kingdom as a safe destination for Chinese tourists in the face of a sceptical public in China where online campaigns and media coverage portray Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries as dangerous.
Boy may have mental illness linked with gaming
Later on Tuesday, Police Lieutenant General Thiti Saengsawang of the Metropolitan Police Bureau told reporters that the arrested boy may have a history of mental illness linked with an addiction to online gaming.
Police have recovered video footage from his smartphone showing him practising to shoot.
He was learning to use the firearm while showing off the sophisticated Glock 9mm gun and asking a friend’s advice on how to load the magazine clips.