In Thailand’s Uthai Sawan, a police officer stormed a rural Thai care center and massacred dozens of people. On Friday, as relatives wailed and collapsed in grief before small coffins of children, the incident unfolded.
The honor of prayers for the deceased schoolchildren was observed, and flags were lowered to half-staff in the rest of the country. Grief also overwhelmed the entire nation, including the poorest regions. This small community, nestled among rice paddies in one of the nation’s poorest areas, was not spared from the devastating mass killing, which is considered Thailand’s deadliest.
Out of the 36 people who tragically died in the horrific attack involving firearms and blades on Thursday, at least 24 were children, mostly in their preschool years.
Seksan Sriraj, a 28-year-old man, expressed, “His wife, who is pregnant, was expected to have her baby this month. She was employed at the Young Children’s Development Center in Uthai Sawan. Their situation deeply affects me emotionally. I wept until no tears remained in my eyes.”
He mentioned that in their next life, they won’t be reborn, and my child and wife will be concerned about me. I will have the opportunity to live and I am still alive. My child and wife have gone to a tranquil place.
WATCH: News Wrap: Numerous children and adults slaughtered by assailant in Thailand.
On Friday, a multitude of individuals, including Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, other government officials, and family members, left flowers at the day care center. These flowers adorned the wall, which was adorned with bouquets of white roses and carnations. Additionally, five small juice boxes, bags of corn chips, and a stuffed animal were also placed there.
The outside grounds of the crowded temple were filled with people overcome by grief for a while. Some were revived with smelling salts and others fainted, while small white coffins were opened and some screamed. The bodies were received by relatives at the local Buddhist temple later.
Oy Yodkhao, 51, expressed her disbelief and gratitude, as she sat on a bamboo mat in the sweltering weather, while her relatives offered her water and tenderly wiped her forehead. “I cannot express my gratitude enough. It was truly overwhelming.”
In one household, three generations coexist harmoniously, and the closely-knit family consists of rice cultivators. Expressing her concern, she mentioned her apprehension for the child’s brothers and sisters, and sadly, her 4-year-old grandson, Tawatchai Sriphu, lost his life.
Som-Mai Pitfai crumbled when she saw the corpse of her 3-year-old niece.
“As I glanced, I witnessed that she had been cut on her face with a blade,” the 58-year-old expressed, restraining tears.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida arrived at a hospital where several of the ten individuals who had sustained injuries were receiving medical care.
READ MORE: Former law enforcement officer assaults Thai daycare center, causing the deaths of at least 36 individuals.
According to an employee who spoke to a Thai TV station, Panya’s son had been absent for approximately one month but had been attending day care. It was expected that he would have to go to court on Friday. Panya Kamrap, a 34-year-old individual who was previously dismissed from the police force due to a drug offense related to methamphetamine, was identified as the attacker by the police.
Panya, who was called by his mother to pick her up on Thursday, had an argument with his wife early that day. The initial investigations found that Panya took his own life after killing his wife and child at their home, as Gen. Dumrongsak Kittiprapas, the Chief of National Police, informed the media on Friday.
Dumrongsak stated, “In the event that his wife was not present and the court summoned him, the ex-officer might have panicked. He became stressed because he assumed that the police officer would now explain to him that his wife would leave him. This is an important point because he appeared normal when he went to court in the morning.”
The mother of Panya, as reported by Thai media interviews, also informed News 3Plus television digital that her son owed an additional debt of 300,000 baht for his car loan, which caused him stress. There was also tension between him and his wife.
The chief of police also stated that an initial autopsy was performed on Panya’s body, which failed to detect any dangerous drugs, indicating doubt on the theories of the attack being carried out in a rage-induced methamphetamine state. Additionally, the finding appeared to cast doubt on the theories, leading to the planned second autopsy.
During an interview with Amarin TV, Boonsom Satita, a day care center staff member who worked at the building, said that he kicked and shot the gunman in the front, but locked the glass door to the front of the building after seeing the assailant shoot a child.
Gunshots to their heads and cuts to the victims’ faces were visible in certain pictures. The photos, captured by first responders, who were mainly preschoolers, depicted the children’s small lifeless bodies still resting on blankets after taking an afternoon nap.
WATCH: The United States supports the people of Thailand following the daycare shooting, according to the State Department.
Satita stated that she and three other educators scaled the fence of the center and managed to escape. Upon her return, she discovered that the children had tragically passed away. According to her, the assailant mistakenly believed that he had killed all of them, but one child miraculously survived by hiding under a blanket.
She said that usually the center has 80 children, but during the attack at the time of the semester ended for older children and rain prevented bus operations, there were fewer children, around 70.
“They would not have made it,” she stated.
Satita mentioned that the assaulter’s child had not visited the daycare facility lately due to illness.
As per reports from the nearby press, the young boy and grandmother are currently receiving medical care at hospitals. Unfortunately, the mother succumbed to her injuries. The attacker initiated the act of slashing them with the knife while the 3-year-old boy was riding a tricycle near his mother and grandmother, who were among the youngest individuals to survive the incident.
Japan and Singapore possess merely 0.3 and 0.25 firearms per 100 individuals, correspondingly, in contrast to Thailand, which boasts one of the most elevated rates of civilian firearm possession in Asia with 15.1 firearms per 100 individuals. While infrequent, incidents of mass shootings in Thailand are not unprecedented.
As per a survey conducted in 2017 by GunPolicy.Org, a nonprofit organization in Australia, the rate of 120.5 per 100 individuals in the United States remains considerably lower than that.
A disgruntled soldier, involved in the worst mass killing in Thailand’s previous history, eventually killed 29 people and held security forces off for approximately 16 hours before opening fire in a mall around the city of Ratchasima Nakhon in northeastern Thailand in 2020.
Allegedly, it was carried out by human traffickers for a crackdown on retaliation. The death toll of the 2015 bombing attack at a shrine in Bangkok, which previously held the record for the worst attack, was surpassed by the killing of 20 people. Additionally, nearly 60 others were wounded in that same attack.