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Thai Minor Arrested After Shopping Mall Shooting Kills 2

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thai police have arrested a teenager accused of shooting and killing at least two people and injuring several more at a downtown Bangkok shopping mall on Tuesday.

Authorities have confirmed a Myanmar and a Chinese national were killed at the Siam Paragon Mall.

The shootings that took place after 4 p.m. local time led to hundreds of shoppers evacuating the mall. Police arrived on the scene shortly after and apprehended the gunman, who surrendered without resisting, local media report. News reports say he is 14 years old.

Eyewitness accounts

Witnesses who work at the luxury mall told VOA they heard the gunshots before eventually fleeing the building.

Poon, who works at a coffee shop on the ground floor, described her experience.

“I didn’t see anything. Customers told us there was some shooting upstairs. I stopped working when I heard people say ‘run, run.’ I ran to the Siam Center [opposite the Siam Paragon building]. I was excited but scared,” she said.

Poy, who works at a dessert shop on the third floor, said all she saw was people running to the exit before she evacuated.

Jakkraphan, who works at an ice cream shop, had to hide when the shooting happened.

“I heard four or five shots. I was on the ground floor. People were screaming. I hid for five minutes and then I went out of the building,” he said.

Gautam from Mumbai, India, said the gunshots caused a panic as people fled the mall.

“There was bunch of gunshots, five or six times, one after the other. We saw everyone was pretty much panicking and had to scatter. We saw people running all over the place, it was like a stampede almost. But fortunately, the mall wasn’t so crowded, perhaps because it’s a Tuesday. But we noticed there was a lot of people running around,” he said.

Video of the accused gunman has been posted on social media. The videos show the suspect has long hair and wore glasses and was wearing a hat with the national flag of the United States on it.

History of mental illness

At a news conference outside of the mall, Thailand Police Gen. Torsak Sukwimon told reporters that the accused is a juvenile who has a history of mental illness.

He said the suspect had told authorities he had forgotten to take his medication that day and that he had heard voices urging him to shoot people.

Thailand’s prime minister, Srettha Thavisin, commented on the attacks on X (formerly Twitter), expressing “deepest condolences to the families.”

Siam Paragon is one of the biggest malls in the country, boasting Michelin-star food, luxury fashion stores, a movie theater and an aquarium. The mall is popular with locals and foreign tourists. Ten years ago, it was named the world’s most photographed place by social media app Instagram.

Some shoppers and workers were still being evacuated hours after the shootings even while the mall was closed. The shooting was also coupled with torrential rain in Bangkok, causing heavy traffic on Sukhumvit Road and ankle-deep puddles.

Siam Paragon released a statement expressing its condolences, saying the incident was “unexpected” and thanked authorities for their efforts.

Mass shootings rare

Mass shootings are rare in Thailand but this is the third gun attack in recent years. In 2020, a soldier of the Royal Thai army shot and killed 29 people and injured 58 more in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima before being shot and killed by authorities.

And almost a year ago to the day on Oct. 6, 2022, a former Thai police officer used a gun and a knife to kill dozens of people, including children, at a nursery in the town of Nong Bua Lam Phu in northern Thailand. The gunman killed himself following the massacre. It was the country’s deadliest mass shooting carried out by an individual to date.

Source : VOA News