Thai government mourns dead in soldier’s shooting rampage

Assumption kindergarten’s children offer flowers at the scene of a deadly mass shooting outside the Terminal 21 shopping mall in Korat, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. A soldier carried out the country’s worst mass shooting in an hourslong siege at the shopping mall. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Thailand’s government and civil servants were asked to dress in black Tuesday to mourn the dead in a soldier’s shooting rampage in a northeastern city where a shopping mall that was the main scene of the tragedy said it will reopen to the public.

A Buddhist ceremony will mark the reopening Thursday of the Terminal 21 Korat mall, building department administrator Amnuayphorn Sankong said.

Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth Thomma, 31, killed 29 people over several hours Saturday and Sunday before security forces shot him dead at the airport-themed mall in Nakhon Ratchasima. He was said to be angered at a land deal brokered by his commander’s mother-in-law. Both were among his victims.

The death toll surpassed Thailand’s last major attack on civilians, a 2015 bombing at a shrine in Bangkok killing 20 people that was allegedly carried out by human traffickers in retaliation for a crackdown on their network.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha asked Cabinet members and civil servants to dress in black Tuesday as an expression of sympathy for the shooting victims. He said Monday said that Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn has offered all of the deceased royally sponsored funeral rites and cremations.

In grief-stricken Nakhon Ratchasima, people dropped by the Terminal 21 mall on Monday to offer flowers and leave notes expressing sympathy.

In the evening, several hundred people gathered outside there for a memorial service led by a Buddhist monk and lit candles to remember the victims.

Some of the 58 wounded are still in critical condition. The Public Health Ministry sent a mental health crisis team to help relatives of the deceased cope with their losses.

Thai media reported two people had been arrested for making threats online to carry out similar shootings.

The Bangkok Post reported a 27-year-old former soldier told police he meant no harm and had been drunk and arguing with his girlfriend before posting his threat on Sunday.

The other case involved a 16-year-old boy who told police he posted his threat just for fun, said the newspaper.

Both face charges of violating the Computer Crime Act, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, and causing public fear, which carried a one-month sentence.


Source: Associated Press – EMILY SCHMALL and PREEYAPA T. KHUNSONG