At least 22 children have died in a shooting at a kindergarten in Thailand

On Thursday, a gunman opened fire in a Thai kindergarten, killing at least 36 people. Among the dead were 22 children and two teachers.

The mass shooting happened around 12:30 a.m. local time in rural Nong Bua Lamphu province in northeastern Thailand, the Royal Thai Police (RTP) said in a Facebook post.

NBC News said the office of Police General Surachete Hakparn, who said about 12 other people were injured. NBC also said eight of them were serious.

RTP said the suspect is a former police officer named Panya Hamrab, who is 34 years old. A police spokesman told reporters that he had been fired from the police force in 2021 for using drugs and that he had been in court on drug charges before the attack. The BBC said this information came from a police spokesman.

According to Thailand Public Television, Kamrab had a rifle, a pistol and a knife. Police told Reuters on Thursday that he also killed his wife and child before shooting himself.

“The gunman came around noon and first shot four or five staff at the children’s center,” a district official named Jidappa Bunsam told sources. He also said that one of the victims was a teacher who was 8 months pregnant.

“At first people thought they were fireworks,” Lamphu continued. She added that about 30 children were in the kindergarten when the shooter arrived.

According to some sources, the youngest person who died was only 2 years old. The BBC reports that the gunman started shooting when he reached the kindergarten and could not find his child. A person who saw what happened told Reuters that the suspect entered a locked room where children were sleeping and started shooting.

Police spokesman Paisan Luesomboon said that while fleeing, he plowed his car into a crowd of people and fired from the driver’s window. He returned to his house to kill his wife and son.

“He intended to run into others on the road,” eyewitness Pauina Purichan, 31, told AFP. “The attacker crashed a motorbike and two people were injured. I drove to get away from him.

Purichan told the news source that the shooter was a known drug user. Although there are a lot of guns in Thailand, there aren’t many mass shootings. The last major event occurred in 2020, when a soldier killed 29 people and injured 57 others over a bad real estate deal.

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