37 people including 24 children have been killed in a mass shooting and stabbing at a Thai daycare in the north-eastern town of Uthai Sawan.
The attacker has been identified as 34-year-old Panya Kamrab, a former police officer who was suspended from duty earlier in the year on charges related to drug possession and fired from his position in June.
He had appeared in court earlier that day where he was facing trial on drug charges before going to the daycare to collect his child at around 12:30pm armed with a shotgun, a 9-millimetre pistol, and a knife.
“(Panya) went to look for his two-year-old son, but the boy was not there … so he started shooting as well as stabbing people at the nursery,” police spokesperson Maj. General Paisan Luesomboon told CNN.
— Defence Journalist Sahil (@DefenceSahil) October 6, 2022
Upon arrival at the childcare centre, he reportedly shot a teacher who was eating their lunch outside before making his way to a door, which staff had locked when they saw the man approaching them with a gun.
He then shot and forced his way in and started shooting and stabbing both children and teachers, killing at least 19 boys, three girls and two adults before he fled the scene. The man had shot four to five staff before entering the nursery.
“I suddenly heard the sound just sounded like firecrackers,” said a teacher who witnessed the horrific incidents.
“So, I looked back [and] the two staffs just collapsed on the floor. Then he pulled another gun from his waist… I didn’t expect he would also kill the kids.”
He then fled the scene, apparently driving erratically said witness Paweena Purichan who told AFP that she saw him leave the scene.
“The attacker rammed a motorbike into two people who were injured. I sped off to get away from him”.
It’s believed the former police officer then went to his home where he killed his wife, other child and himself.
Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha has ordered an immediate investigation into the tragedy.
“Concerning this horrifying incident… I would like to express my deepest sorrow and condolences to the families of the dead and injured,” he said.