Family of those killed in yesterday’s horrific daycentre shooting in Thailand say they have ‘cried until they had no more tears’.
The country has come together to mourn after the deadliest rampage in the nation’s history.
Former policeman Panya Kamrap burst into a daycare centre yesterday, killing dozens of children and teachers and then firing on more people.
The attacker, who authorities said had been sacked from the force earlier this year because of a drug offence, took his own life after killing his own wife and child at home.
In footage posted online after the attack, frantic family members could be heard weeping outside the centre.
At least 24 of the 36 people shot or stabbed to death in the small town of Uthai Sawan were children.
Heart-breaking pictures show coffins being carried to a morgue today following the attack.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is to travel to the town today, told reporters initial reports were that the former officer was having personal problems.
‘This shouldn’t happen,’ he said. ‘I feel deep sadness toward the victims and their relatives.’
This morning in the town, royal and government representatives stood in lines to lay wreaths at ceremonial tables in front of the Young Children’s Development Centre’s main door.
They were followed by weeping family members, who gathered their hands in prayer before laying single white flowers on the wooden floor.
‘I cried until I had no more tears coming out of my eyes. They are running through my heart’ said Seksan Sriraj, 28, whose pregnant wife was a teacher at the centre and was due to give birth this month.
‘My wife and my child have gone to a peaceful place. I am alive and will have to live. If I can’t go on, my wife and my child will be worried about me, and they won’t be reborn in the next life. That’s about it.’
Many relatives were gathered in front of the child care centre to start the process of claiming compensation and psychologists were also sent to the site to help them.
Families of the victims have also received blessings from Buddist monks following the tragedy.
Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida were expected to visit two hospitals treating the wounded.
Kamrap’s motive for the attack is being investigated by police.
Officers speculated the gunman targeted the centre because it was near his home.
Witnesses said the attacker got out of a car and shot a man and child in front of the building before walking toward the classroom.
Teachers at the child care centre locked the glass front door but the gunman shot and kicked his way through it.
The children, mainly two and three-year-olds, had been taking an afternoon nap.
Nopparat Langkapin, a local official in Uthai Sawan, said the victims were ‘all children of our community’.
‘Relatives, families and close friends are deeply saddened by this incident. And we all felt this across the community very quickly. Most of us are feeling depressed and sad because they are our children,’ he said.
The attack took place in Nongbua Lamphu province, one of the country’s poorest regions.
In an interview with Amarin TV, Satita Boonsom, a childcare worker at the daycare centre, said the gunman after arriving at the scene shot a child and his father in front of the building before walking toward the classroom.
She said the centre usually has around 70 to 80 children but there were fewer at the time of the attack because the semester was closed for older children.
‘They wouldn’t have survived,’ she said.
Firearms-related deaths in Thailand are much lower than in countries like the United States and Brazil, but higher than in countries like Japan and Singapore that have strict gun control laws.
The rate of firearms related deaths in 2019 was about four per 100,000, compared with about 11 per 100,000 in the US and nearly 23 per 100,000 in Brazil.
The country’s previous worst mass shooting involved a soldier who opened fire in and around a shopping centre in the north-eastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020, killing 29 people and holding off security forces for some 16 hours before eventually being killed by them.
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