NAKHON RATCHASIMA — Among the 29 victims killed by a disgruntled soldier in Korat over the weekend were a police officer who tried to block the killer’s path with his truck, a mall guard who bought time for shoppers to escape, and a woman who used her body as a shield for her daughter.
While Thailand’s worst mass shooting in history will be forever marked by its random, senseless acts of brutality, emerging details on some of the victims also show a pattern of sacrifice amid one of the darkest episodes of this country.
The dead include mothers, sons, police officers, soldiers, a motorcycle taxi, a pizza deliverer – ordinary civilians and civil servants whose lives were shattered on a Buddhist holy day that commemorated the first time Lord Buddha gathered hundreds of his disciples and taught them to be a community of compassion and selfless dedication.
Due to the difficulty in gathering information and respect for families of the victims in the aftermath of a national tragedy, this article could not publish full details of each victim. If any reader has additional info on the victims that deserves public attention, please drop us a message via emails or our social media platforms.
Additional reporting Asaree Thaitrakulpanich and Tappanai Boonbandit.
Captain Trakoon Ta-arsa, 34
Trakoon was a member of the police’s elite Arintaraj 26 task force who spent over 10 hours trying to locate and neutralize the gunman. Police said Trakoon was shot dead while battling the perpetrator inside Terminal 21 shopping mall.
Born in the province of Chiang Rai, Trakoon joined the police when he was 23, serving in the border patrol force. His decision to join is said to be largely inspired by his father, a retired soldier who once served along Thailand’s border region. Trakoon’s younger brother is also enrolled in the police academy.
“I told my son when he was a kid … about shootouts with bad people along the border,” Cpl. Guan Ta-arsa said. “My son liked to listen to those stories, and he wanted to become a police officer, so he can fight bad people, too.”
“Even though I am proud that my son sacrificed for his country, but if I could choose, I’d rather have my son back,” his mother Piansri Ta-arsa told reporters. “If the next life really exists, I want him to be my son again.”
Trakoon and his teammate Petcharat Kamchadphai were the first officers of Arintarat 26 to be killed in action since the unit’s founding in 1983.
Athiwat “Dear” Promsuk, 18
Athiwat was hiding in a cold storage room inside a supermarket at Terminal 21 when the gunman tried to break into the room. Eyewitnesses said Athiwat barred the door and allowed eight others to escape – at the cost of his own life.
Athiwat’s classmate Umakorn Thaimanee, who was also in the mall that day, said he was chatting with him on Line application, asking him for updates on the situation – until Athiwat went silent around 8pm.
“He’s the hero that saved eight people’s lives,” Umakorn said. “He was bullied at school sometimes, but he never got mad. He got good grades and was a good person. When I found out, I fell to my knees and cried.”
Dear’s mother Anong Somwung, worked as a janitor at the mall. She was also stuck inside the mall during the shooting. Athiwat reportedly used video calls and text messages to urge her to escape.
She did, and waited for him at the gas station across from the mall. She found out the next morning that her son wouldn’t be joining her.
“I was so shocked when I found out he was dead. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know why he had such bad luck; I had hoped he would be able to come out and see me,” Anong, 47, said at her son’s funeral Sunday in their hometown of Buriram.
Sen. Sergeant Major Chatchawan Thaengthong, 50
Chatchawan was among the first group of policemen to confront the gunman soon after reports of shootings at the base spread over the police radio. He worked as a crime suppression officer at Korat city police station.
According to eyewitnesses, Chatchawan drove a police vehicle to block the road in front of a temple in an attempt to stop the suspect from leaving the area, drawing a hail of bullets from the gunman. Chatchawan was killed at the scene.
Chatchawan’s younger brother Pornthep Thaengthong said he first found out about his death after reading the news. Chatchawan is survived by a 6-year-old daughter.
“She still doesn’t know her father is dead,” Pornthep said on Sunday. “My family told her that her father is receiving treatment after falling off his motorcycle.”
His wife Nattha Rattanarak described him as a friendly man and a serious, hardworking police officer. Chatchawan’s last words to his wife were a text message saying he bought noodles to share with her that evening.
Apiksanapa Khanpakwan, 45
After the gunman shot Athiwat dead and forced his way into the cold storage room, Apiksanapa Khunpakwan shielded her daughter with her own body, saving the girl’s life while sacrificing her own.
She worked as a nurse and was at the mall to pick up her Matthayom 5 daughter from tutor school. They were about to sit down for dinner when they heard gunshots, and tried to flee.
Apisana’s father, Khunpol Khanpakwan, said that the last message he got from her was “It’s so cold here.”
“At first I was relieved because there was only one gunman. I thought the security officers would take him down soon,” Khunpol recalled the moment he heard about the shootings. “I didn’t know my daughter was [hiding] so close to the villain.”
She is survived by her 17-year-old daughter, who remains in the hospital due to gunshot wounds. Doctors are reportedly administering her with sleeping pills to help her cope with the sight of her own mother dying.
Sen. Sergeant Major Petcharat Kamchadphai, 35
Petcharat was a member of the Arintaraj 26 commandos who battled the gunman inside the sprawling complex of Terminal 21 mall. Police said Petcharat was killed as he assaulted the supermarket where the suspect was holed up at the end of the 15-hour siege.
The Bangkok-born Petcharat had always wanted to work as a policeman since he was young, his parents said at the funeral. But since Petcharat didn’t like desk jobs, he signed up for the elite Arintaraj 26 team.
“He was an adventurous man,” said his father Sub. Lt. Sommai Kamchadphai, himself an army cavalry officer.
The University of Chamber of Commerce, where Petcharat was studying for a law degree, described him as a punctual and hardworking student who got straight A’s in every subject.
Petcharat and his teammate Trakoon Ta-arsa were the first officers of Arintarat 26 to be killed in action since the unit’s founding in 1983.
Amnat Boon-uea, 48
Hailed as a hero, Amnat was the mall security guard who shielded shoppers with his body and helped multiple people to escape. Amarat was gunned down by the assailant as a result.
Amnat is described by his peers as a native of Ubon Ratchathani who had been working in mall security even before Terminal 21 Korat opened.
Amnat leaves behind a 10-year-old daughter. Amnat’s grandmother who raised him, Khoon Chompoopeun, 91, found out about his death when a neighbor who had been watching the news came to tell her.
“I was about to faint,” Khoon said. “Usually when he has time off from work, he comes to eat with me. …Why do good people have to die?
Tassana Harirak, 35
Tassana worked as a laborer in Korat and served as an unpaid police volunteer in his spare time, directing traffic, manning checkpoints, and providing other assistance to the local police.
Hearing an alert about a gunman on the loose, Tassana joined other police officers in the pursuit and tried to intercept him close to a temple. He was shot and killed by the gunman at the scene.
Tassana’s adoptive father Cherd Paikrathok said Tassana lost his parents when he was young, and he had nowhere to live, so he adopted him as a son. Cherd said Tassana didn’t earn a lot as a laborer, and sometimes had to rely on leftover meals from temples, but he always made time to engage in police duties.
“He worked with a heartfelt sacrifice,” Cherd said. “I feel sad for what happened, but I’m also proud that my son served as a guardian of the people until his last breath.”
Cherd said part of the donations he received will be used to build a school in Tassana’s memory.
Private Metha Lerdsiri, 21
Metha served in the army ordnance corps, assigned with the task of guarding the arsenal at Suratham Phitak army base.
He was on duty when his colleague, Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma, shot him at close range before stealing the firearms from the armory. Pvt. Metha later died at hospital that same evening.
Metha’s grandmother Prapan Pakotasang said she took care of Metha after his parents divorced and his mother moved to live with her new husband in Britain when Metha was about 11.
When conscription season came around, Prapan said her grandson volunteered to serve in the army, and he was due to be released from service in April. Metha had told his family he planned to continue his career in the army by signing up as a ranger in Thailand’s restive Deep South.
He was also scheduled to take a leave on Monday to visit his home and see his 4-year-old daughter, Dino.
“Daddy was talented, how could the villain take him down?” his daughter asked Prapan upon hearing the news of her father’s death, according to Prapan.
Captain Siriwiwat Saengprasit, 56
Siriwiwat was on a holiday with his wife and friends, driving through Korat to a reunion party, when the gunman opened fire on him. The gunfire killed Siriwiwat and wounded his wife, Watanya Suphap.
An army captain, Siriwiwat was a veteran serving in the southern border provinces, having been posted there since 2004, just when a bitter secessionist violence was breaking out. He commanded the 5914 Company of the army rangers.
The Nakhon Si Thammarat native was best known by his colleagues for his development works, setting up medical treatment and building public facilities in many towns in an effort to win over the local population by friendship instead of brute force.
He is survived by three children. Speaking between sobs in front of his body at the funeral, his wife Watanya told them to learn from his service to the public, and strive to be good members of the society.
Patchara Chanpeng, 54
Patchara and three of her friends inside the car were shot dead inside their car in front of Wat Pa Sattharuam by the gunman, shortly before he made his way to continue his carnage downtown.
Patchara, who was born in Kalasin, worked as a teacher at a public school in Sakon Nakhon province. The government education office described her as a woman dedicated to the career of teaching.
She leaves behind her widower, who served as an infantry Sub Lieutenant in Sakon Nakhon, a son, and a daughter.
Major Ananrote Krasae, 48
The major served as a commander of Suratham Phitak army base’s ordnance unit. He was the first victim to die in the rampage, having been shot at close range by Sgt. Jakkrapanth Thomma at his residence.
Media reports say Maj. Ananrote bought a house in the army housing scheme for Sgt. Jakkrapanth, using his commander status to approve the sale, but he ended up taking 450,000 baht for himself as a “commission.”
Jakkrapanth allegedly demanded the money from the major, which he refused to pay. The dispute eventually led to a heated argument that ended in Jakkrapanth pulling out his handgun and shooting Ananrote and his mother-in-law dead at the scene.
However, Ananrote’s family denied the allegations and said that it was a broker, and not Ananrote, who kept the money for themselves.
Anong Mitrchan, 65
Anong was the second victim murdered by the gunman when the killings began at her family residence in Korat city.
She was a real estate developer who, together with her son-in-law Col. Ananrote Krasae, sold a house in the army’s housing program to the gunman. She promised to give the gunman a brokerage fee of 500,000 baht, but it turned out that he only received 50,000 baht.
Her widower Col. Naruepol Mitrchan said a meeting to settle the deal was held at her house, with his commander Col. Ananrote acting as a mediator. During the meeting, however, the gunman drew out his handgun and shot both of them. A private serving as an aide to Col. Ananrote was also injured.
“She already made the payment to [the gunman] via a broker, but the broker did not pass it to him,” Naruepol said. “I’m no longer angry [at the gunman]. I forgive his sin. May the souls of my wife and son-in-law rest in peace.”
Jirawat Rudglang, 41
Jirawat was out on an errand with his dog Koki on his motorcycle when he was shot dead by the gunman at Wat Pa Sattharuam. In his dying moments, he called his wife.
“Come help me, I’m dying,” he said. The gunman then shot him again in the neck, delivering a killing blow, while Koki escaped safely into the temple.
His wife Rattanatikan Nambutr rushed to the scene but could not go to her husband’s body due to police blockade. He was later pronounced dead.
Narisara Chotiklang, 52
Narisara was shot dead while driving past the gunman. She was a pharmacist at Porphat Hospital in Korat. The Thai Pharmacy Council on Saturday posted condolences for her on their Facebook.
Her son, who is currently in Matthayom 6, was in the car with her. Her son was injured in the incident, but survived.
Wanchai Vechawan, 41
The manager of an auto repair shop inside the mall was shot dead in front of his colleagues while he was peeking downstairs to see the gunman.
“Big bro got shot!” one of his colleagues shouted as captured on a viral video. They then dragged his body into the shop’s storage room, where they went into hiding for about five hours. “We prayed to Wanchai’s body and asked him to protect us.”
The Buriram native had been working at the Klean Car Care for seven years. He is the sole breadwinner in his family. He is survived by two children, who are still in school.
“I called him but he didn’t answer,” his widow Bang-on Pimubon said. “I was nervous, until his co-worker told me that he was dead. I was shocked. I just embraced my son and cried.”
Peerapat Parasarn, 27
Peerapat was driving past the Terminal 21 Korat mall when stray bullets from the gunman hit him, causing his SUV to crash into a traffic island.
His father said Peerapat was a native of Ratchaburi province who moved to Nakhon Ratchasima to work as an engineer in the high speed rail project. He is said to be the family’s breadwinner.
“Let’s go home, my dear. This is not our home,” his mother shed her tears during a soul retrieval ritual Monday morning.
Saranyapong Pongchaoomdee, 55
Saranyapong was shot in front of Terminal 21 Korat, just as the gunman opened fire on random commuters in traffic. He was riding a motorcycle on his way home to bring dinner to his family. Saranyapong was rushed to a hospital, where he died Saturday.
Saranyapong was a mechanics engineer at the Royal Irrigation Department.
He leaves behind his widow and three daughters.
Chakkrapan Chipimai, 44
There is no immediate information on Chakkrapan’s background beyond the fact that he was a local motorcycle taxi. A police statement also mentioned that he had a son.
“I will keep our friendship in my heart forever. Next time I’m in Korat I won’t get to visit you at the motorcycle taxi station anymore. I miss your laugh and your face when you have something funny to tell us,” wrote Facebooker Dia Nadia, one of Chakkrapan’s friends.
Ratchanon Kanchanamethee, 13
The Matthayom 2 teen was on his way back from an after school activity, and only 200 meters away from his dorm, the gunman shot and killed him.
Both of his parents fainted upon hearing the news.
“I can’t take it,” his father, Nuttawut Kanchanamethee said at the funeral. “I can’t take it that he died like this.”
There is no other immediate information about Ratchanon. He is said to be a native of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Somkiat Witchupanyapanich, 54
Police said Somkiat was driving in the mall’s parking lot when the gunman shot at him and set his Toyota Altis on fire. The car crashed into the wall, and Somkiat’s burned body was one of the last to be recovered from the scene.
Somkiat leaves behind a widow. He was an alumnus of the Faculty of Engineering at Chiang Mai University.
Ekkawin Yeunton, 18
Ekkawin was working his part-time job as a pizza delivery boy at the mall when he was gunned down among other victims.
He was a first-year electronics engineering student at the Rajamangala University of Technology Isan, which posted a message of condolences online. The Korat native had a younger brother who’s still studying in school.
His family said Ekkawin was also enrolled in a military training program because he hoped to take up a career in the army after he graduated.
Suriya, 44, Papatchara, 20, and Porrama Limratchataporn, 2
The family of three was one of the last victims killed in a cold storage room inside the supermarket, where the gunman was brought down a few meters away from them.
Papatchara’s sister, Siriwan Nuanraksa, said her sister was taking her son to see his father at a blanket store inside the mall when the incident happened. She said the last message from her sister was sent at about 8pm, saying that the family is safe.
“I couldn’t contact her, so I went to the mall to see her,” Siriwan said of the Korat-born family. “I couldn’t get inside or see the list of victims, until I heard from a rescue worker the next morning that she was dead.”
A witness who was hiding near them said the toddler cried to the sound of gunshots, revealing their hiding place to the gunman.
Other victims include:
Chayapa Saengkornburi, 57
Chakapan Chiphimai, 44
Ariya Klebmek, 40
An unidentified woman, 50
An unidentified man, 20
Note: the government says those interested in assisting the victims’ families can do so by donating to “Terminal 21 incident victims,” bank account number 678-9-97951-4, Krung Thai Bank, SaveOne Market branch.