Disgraced Cop That Killed 22 Daycare Children Was Facing Drug Charges
A disgraced former police officer addicted to drugs opened fire on a daycare centre in Thailand on Thursday, killing 22 preschool children before fleeing on his motorcycle.
At least 38 people were killed and 11 injured in one of Thailand’s deadliest shooting rampages.
The disgraced former police officer, fired from his job earlier in the year, shot himself after murdering his wife and child at home.
First responders’ photos showed the school’s floor littered with the tiny bodies of children still on their blankets, where they had been napping in the afternoon.
Images showed slashes across their faces, gunshot wounds to their heads, and pools of blood.
According to a teacher, the assailant got out of a car and immediately shot a man eating lunch outside before firing more shots.
The teacher had an opportunity to run inside when the attacker paused to reload.
“I ran to the back because the kids were sleeping,” the young woman, who did not give her name, choked back her words. “They were two or three years old.”
The attack occurred in the rural town of Uthai Sawan in Thailand’s northeastern province of Nong Bua Lamphu, one of the poorest regions of the country.
According to another witness, the daycare center’s staff had locked the door, but the suspect shot his way in.
“The teacher who died had a child in her arms,” a witness at the daycare said.
“I didn’t think he’d kill children, but he shot at and through the door.”
Rescuers rushed into the single-story building, past a shattered glass front door, with drops of blood visible on the ground in the entryway, according to a video taken by a first responder on the scene.
Frantic family members could hear weeping outside the building in footage posted online after the attack. One image showed a blood-splattered floor with sleeping mats scattered around the room.
The walls were adorned with alphabet pictures and other colourful decorations.
Panya Kamrap, a 34-year-old former police officer, was identified as the suspect.
In an interview, Pol Maj. Gen. Paisal Luesomboon told Thai PBS he was fired from the force earlier this year due to a drug use charge.
Pol Maj. Gen. Paisal said in a Facebook post that the disgraced former police officer was due in court Friday.
Police speculated that he may have chosen the daycare centre close to his home.
Dumrongsak previously told reporters that the main weapon used was a 9mm pistol he purchased.
Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who planned to visit the scene on Friday, told reporters that the former officer was having personal problems.
“This should not have happened,” he said. “I am brokenhearted for the victims and their families.”
Police have not released an official death toll, but they have stated that at least 22 daycare children were killed at the daycare.
Family members of the daycare children killed in the attack remained at the daycare late into the evening.
According to Thai PBS, mental health workers sat with them, attempting to provide comfort.