Police, Army Besiege Shopping Mall to Search for Soldier Who Kills 20

Image: Jakkrapanth Thomma / Facebook

Update: Gunman was shot dead on Sunday morning.

KORAT — A combined operation of army and police is laying siege to a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima where a solder who shot dead at least 20 people is believed to be hiding.

Police sources also said the gunman, identified as Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma, was holding a number of people as hostages inside Terminal 21 shopping mall, but police officials later announced by 2am Sunday that all civilians have been safely brought out of the mall.

Police commandos were dispatched from Bangkok to neutralize the gunman while an army special force unit was deployed at the scene to serve as a back-up. Senior officials such as army chief Apirat Kongsompong, police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, and deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul also arrived in Korat to monitor the situation.

Jakkrapanth on Saturday stole weapons from inside his base and shot his commanding officer dead before commandeering a Humvee into the city center, police said. He then proceeded to fire his weapon into crowds and traffic close to Terminal 21 shopping mall.

Police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen advised the public to move away from the staging areas, stay indoor, and obey instructions from security officers. Road around Terminal 21 have been cordoned off while the operation is ongoing.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has been informed of the attack, and he has expressed condolences to families of the victims, his spokeswoman said. The Prime Minister also ordered all relevant agencies to quickly solve the situation.

Opposition leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit also posted a message expressing support to the law enforcement officers in Korat.

Jakkrapanth has posted several photos and videos of his attack on his social media account, along with updates in text.

“I’m tired now,” Jakkakrapanth said to the camera, wearing military helmet and uniform, “I can’t lift my finger anymore.”

“Should I surrender?” he posted at about 7pm. Just about 10 minutes earlier, he said he had a cramp.

The dead include a motorcycle taxi, a cab driver, and a highschool student, according to reports from the scene. A friend of Jakkrapanth described him as a professional shooting athlete who’s won several prizes.

Jakkrapanth is said to have taken six firearms, at least 700 rounds of ammunition and two grenades from his base arsenal.

His motives remain unclear, though the soldier posted several incohorent messages prior to the attack.

“Getting rich from corruption and taking advantage of other people, do they think they can bring money with them to spend in hell?” Jakkrapanth wrote earlier today.

His Facebook appears to have been deactivated at about 7.20pm.

Mass shootings are rare in Thailand, though today’s attack came just weeks just after a gunman opened fire in a gold store in Lopburi province, killing three people and wound other four.

This is a breaking news. Article might be updated without notice.

A graduation photo of Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma.

Correction: An earlier version of this article identified the suspected gunman as a corporal. In fact, he is a sergeant.