A deranged former police officer slaughtered at least 35 people, including 24 sleeping children and a pregnant woman, in an unthinkable rampage at a Thailand nursery Thursday — before driving home and killing his wife and own child and taking his own life, officials said.
Panya Kamrab, 34, who was canned from the police last year for drug use, flew into a rage when he arrived at the childcare center in the town of Nongbua Lamph and realized his kid was not there, according to the BBC, citing local officials.
The attacker, who was armed with a shotgun, pistol and knife, had attended a court hearing on a drug charge before going on the bloody rampage, a police spokesperson told reporters.
About 30 children were at the facility when the gunman arrived, fewer than usual due to heavy rain that kept many people away, district official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters.
“The shooter came in around lunch time and shot four or five officials at the child-care center first,” said Jidapa, adding that among the victims was a teacher who was eight months pregnant.
“At first people thought it was fireworks,” she told the news outlet.
Kamrab then forced his way into a locked room where children were sleeping and hacked them to death, Jidapa said.
Gruesome images posted on social media showed sheets covering what appeared to be the bodies of children lying in pools of blood at the center, about 310 miles northeast of Bangkok.
After he fled, Kamrab continued to shoot from his car, hitting several people, according to police Maj. Gen. Paisal Luesomboon.
He also ran his vehicle into a crowd of bystanders, before returning home and killing his wife and child, police spokesman Paisan Luesomboon said.
He then took his own life, the official said.
Eyewitness Paweena Purichan, 31, told Agence France-Presse that she had encountered the gunman driving erratically after the attack.
“He intended to crash into others on the road,” she told the news service. “The attacker rammed a motorbike and two people were injured. I sped off to get away from him.”
She added that the gunman was well known in the community as a drug addict.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha described the shooting as a “shocking” event.
“My deepest condolences to the bereaved and injured families,” he said.
The country’s previous worst mass shooting occurred in 2020 when a disgruntled soldier opened fire in and around a mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima, killing 29 people and holding off security forces for about 16 hours before eventually being killed by them.
With Post wires