Award Banner
Award Banner

Thai security forces kill mass shooter at Nakhon Ratchasima shopping mall

Thai security forces kill mass shooter at Nakhon Ratchasima shopping mall
An injured member of the Thai security forces is stretchered out after a raid inside the Terminal 21 shopping mall to try to stop a soldier on a rampage after a mass shooting in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Feb 9, 2020.
PHOTO: Reuters

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, THAILAND - Thai security forces on Sunday (Feb 9)  killed a soldier after he carried out a shooting rampage that left at least 21 people dead, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.

“Thank you police and army for ending the situation. Shooter shot dead!!!” Anutin said in a post on Facebook.

Police and military sources said the soldier had been killed at the shopping mall where he was holed up in the north-eastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

“The police have killed the perpetrator and rescued eight hostages. Some were wounded,” said one of the security sources.  Both declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak to the media. 

Earlier, an officer said nine civilians had been evacuated from the shopping mall and security forces were checking whether any remained there.

“The perpetrator is still in the basement and it doesn’t look as though he has hostages. We are getting close to him,” said the officer who did not give his name because he was not authorised to speak to media.

The killings began at around 3pm local time on Saturday (2pm Singapore) when the soldier opened fire in a house before moving to an army camp and then to the mall in Nakhon Ratchasima in north-eastern Thailand, posting messages on Facebook as he went.

Police have identified the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Jakrapanth Thomma.

Overnight, one member of the security forces was killed and at least two others wounded in a raid into the Terminal 21 mall to try to stop the gunman.

 “We are doing our best. You can see that all our senior officers of the government have been assigned here,” Anutin told reporters earlier. “All steps are being taken with precautions so that we can minimise the damage as much as we can.”  More than 30 people have been wounded.

Police closed off streets around the mall and kept journalists behind a security cordon. One military officer said the gunman was holed up in the mall’s basement. He did not give his name as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Thai media said the suspected shooter had worked at an army base close to Nakhon Ratchasima, which is about 250km from the capital Bangkok. Before the attack, Jakrapanth had posted on his Facebook account that he was out for vengeance – but he did not say for what.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgLct_n5w3s[/embed]

‘IT APPEARS HE WENT MAD’ 

“We don’t know why he did this. It appears he went mad,” Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit told Reuters.

Overnight, soldiers and police stormed into the mall and escorted hundreds of trapped people to safety. 

“It was frightening because I could hear the occasional gunshot ... we waited a long time for the police to come and help us, many hours,” said Suvanarat Jirattanasakul, 27, her voice trembling after she emerged.

The mall was busy with shoppers on a long weekend for the Buddhist Makha Bucha holiday.

CCTV footage from inside the mall posted on social media showed the gunman dressed in black and wearing a mask, his gun slung over his shoulder with no sign of other people around.

[[nid:476918]]

Facebook said it had removed the suspect’s account.

“There is no place on Facebook for people who commit this kind of atrocity, nor do we allow people to praise or support this attack,” a Facebook representative said in a statement.

Major shootings are rare in the South-east Asian country other than in the far south, where a decades-old insurgency persists.

Nakhon Ratchasima is one of the biggest cities in north-eastern Thailand, an island of relative prosperity in a rice growing area that is one of the poorest parts of the country of 69 million people.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.