NONG BUA LAMPHU, THAILAND – A mass shooting took place on Thursday afternoon at a daycare in Thailand, around 269 miles from Bangkok, which claimed the life of at least 38 people.
The shooter was identified as a former police officer, Corporal Panya Kamlarb, who was armed with a shotgun, a pistol (a 9mm Sig Sauer), and a knife. He forced his way into the day care in the office building of Uthai Sawan Tambon Administration and began shooting, killing at least 37 people (including 24 children), wounding at least 10 others (six of whom were critical), and then eventually killing himself. Some of the victims were shot to death, others were stabbed.
Some of his victims were as young as two years old. Reportedly, he shot nine others as he ran away from the building.
Further, it was reported that Kamlarb’s wife and four-year-old son were also found dead nearby his home, where Kamlarb shot himself dead.
The incident occurred during naptime at the daycare, so many victims were killed in their sleep. One toddler, a three-year-old girl named Honey, was sleeping with a blanket over her head at the far end of the room. Kamlarb purportedly either didn’t see her or thought she was already dead, and the girl escaped the bloody fate of the young friends surrounding her.
When Honey’s grandfather arrived on scene to pick her up, she was being held by a teacher with a cloth covering her face, so she couldn’t see the aftermath of the dead children. “It’s a miracle,” her grandfather said.
Video of the incident shows bloody sleeping mats around a room while parents come on the scene weeping. The door of the daycare was reportedly locked by staff after they say the gunman shoot a man and his child outside the building, but Kamlarb broke through its glass door to gain entry.
District official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters that Kamlarb first shot several staff members and teachers upon entering, including a woman who was eight months pregnant. She also said that the others in the building thought there were fireworks going off at first.
According to Pol Maj Gen Paisal Luesomboon, Kamlarb was fired as an officer a year ago after being arrested for possession of methamphetamine. He was also reportedly under the influence of drugs during this shooting spree. He had apparently appeared in court on drug charges prior to the shooting, and was supposed to be sentenced on Friday.
An activist for democracy, Thaikorn Polsuwan, tweeted, “Since Prayut came to power, methamphetamine and drugs are all over. Now, the price is 7 baht [20 cents] per pill. … Are you going to let drugs continue to swarm the [country] like this?” Currently, 80% of those jailed in Thailand are reportedly there due to drugs, mostly methamphetamine.
Prayut Chan-o-cha was put into power in 2014 after a coup d’etat. He’s a former military officer who said that reforming the notoriously corrupt police force was a top priority, despite a lack of progress in the area since that time.
Nong Bua Lamphu is a small town and is in one of the nation’s poorest regions. There are normally 70-80 children in that room at one time, but there were less on Thursday because buses were unable to run in the rain and the semester had ended for the older children.
This mass shooting is said to be the nation’s deadliest incident at the hands of a single perpetrator in history. At this time, it’s unknown why that specific daycare was targeted.