Hundreds of mourners and families gathered in temples in northeast Thailand yesterday, offering candles, toys, and prayers to honour the lives of more than 30 daycare victims, 24 of whom were children, of a shocking murder rampage.
Most children, aged 2 to 5, were slashed to death on Thursday, while the adults were shot, police said in the aftermath of one of the worst recent child death tolls in a single-killer massacre in the country.
At the Si Uthai temple, Nong Bua Lam Phu, relatives and family of the deceased joined a devastated community to pay their respects to those murdered by a former Bangkok police officer who had been suspended after admitting to using methamphetamines.
They lit candles in front of coffins adorned with floral wreaths and framed photographs of the deceased, including the pink-shirted toddler Pattarawat Jamnongnid, who was one of two child victims dubbed “Captain” after a famous actor.
On his coffin were a dinosaur model and a bottle of milk.
His mother, a 40-year-old factory worker, named Daoreung Jamnongnid, stated that he was vivacious and talkative.
She said he was the youngest victim at 2 years and 10 months old, and he already knew the alphabet. “He was so brilliant. He and his father enjoyed watching documentaries together.”
The former officer’s final victims were his wife and child at home before he shot himself.
Police identified the assailant as Panya Khamrap, a 34-year-old former police sergeant on trial for drug possession. It was unclear whether Panya continued to use drugs, although his autopsy revealed no evidence of drug use at the time of his suicide.
Surachet Hakpan, deputy police chief, stated that 180 individuals were being questioned by law enforcement.
When asked about the killer’s motivation, he told reporters that it was a random act “His family, his finances, and his legal cases are a constant source of stress for him. Thus, he behaved aggressively “.
Surachet stated that police were collaborating with the government of Thailand to examine the issuance of firearm licenses.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s spokesman, Anucha Burapachaisri, said he was concerned about post-tragic trauma in the community.
He said, “The prime minister asked everyone to support one another and endure this devastating loss together.”
Police in northeastern Thailand reported that three boys and two girls survived the attack, with all but one being hospitalized.
Late on Friday, King Maha Vajiralongkorn visited the hospital where the injured were taken. He expressed deep regret and sorrow over the “evil incident” he described.
He stated, “There are no other words to describe this emotion.” “I want to encourage you all to be courageous so that the souls of these children can find solace in knowing their families will persevere and be able to move forward.”
Kittisak Polprakan, 29, who witnessed the killing spree in northeastern Thailand, said Panya was calm as he exited the daycare centre after slashing 22 children with a large, curved blade.
“It was so peaceful,” he stated. “There was no noise, yelling, or anything else. He was the only one who left.”
On Saturday, police interrogated locals near the attacker’s residence, approximately 3 kilometres (2 miles) from the deadliest attack.
People had left toy flowers and toy vehicles in front of the daycare as an offering to the spirits of those killed.
At the Wat Rat Samakee temple, hundreds of individuals dressed in black were preparing for funerals.
Earlier in the day, relatives wept as saffron-robed monks chanted amid intense emotions.
Villagers sat on carpets with their hands clasped in front of caskets adorned with flowers and portraits of smiling children killed by the ex-police officer during his rampage at the daycare.
A large toy sports car was placed atop one of the coffins, lined with a golden fabric adorned with Buddhist symbols.
A woman who lost two 3-year-old nephews was observed weeping while kneeling and pressing her palms against one of their caskets.
Saturday, Channel 8 broadcast live what it said was the killer’s cremation at a temple in the neighbouring province of Udon Thani in northeastern Thailand, which was attended by only a handful of people.
Three monks chanted as his mother wept and spoke her final words in front of a white coffin. “May you be reborn in your next life as a good person, not a bad one,” the woman said.
An employee of the crematorium then lit joss sticks and recited a brief prayer before igniting the flame and closing the door as smoke poured out.
The woman, who identified herself as “grandmother Duang,” requested that the media convey her condolences for the deceased.
“I’m thinking of them,” she said, concealing her identity by blurring her face. “My heart is broken.”