The hours-long horror that gripped the heart of Nakhon Ratchasima City since Saturday afternoon ended on Sunday morning with the extrajudicial killing of the 32-year-old soldier who went on rampage shooting dead 26 people and wounding 57 others.
Sergeant-Major First Class Jakrapanth Thomma, a non-commissioned officer at Surathampitak Camp, was shot dead at 9am on Saturday in a gunfight with security officers inside the Terminal 21 Korat shopping center in which he went on rampage and holed up in, Second Army Region commander Lt Gen Thanya Kriatisarn told the press during a morning press conference to declare the end of standoff. He also expressed condolence to the families of deceased victims and those wounded.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who flew from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima this morning to follow up this case, told a separate press conference at 11.50am that there were 27 deaths (26 civilians/officers and the gunman) and 51 injuries from this incident. Twenty-five people among the wounded were released home while 32 others were admitted to hospitals.
The Ministry of Justice already set up a special center to aid the victims of this mass shooting and their relatives. The Ministry of Public Health, besides treating those injured from the incident, also had its Department of Mental Health sent in officials to provide a guideline for the area’s residents especially those stranded for hours in the mall to care for their mental health and recover from this trauma.
Jakrapanth started the spree around 3pm on Saturday by shooting dead his 48-year-old commanding officer Colonel Anantaroj Krasae and Anantaroj’s 65-year-old mother-in-law Anong Mitchan at their home in Tambon Nong Chabok reportedly over a land deal debt dispute.
The suspect then broke into the military camp’s armory to steal several guns and ammunition while shooting at some fellow soldiers there. As he fled in a stolen humvee, he also opened fires at police and civilians outside Wat Pa Sattharam before he went onto the nearby shopping mall around 6pm. During the spree he periodically took selfies and some clips to update his social media account which then went offline around 7pm.
Thai authorities responded by sealing a two-kilometre-radius area from the mall to make way for the operation to catch the suspect who holed up inside the mall and continued shooting people, and to rescue those innocent people who were stranded in the building. During the hours-long stand-off, one police officer was killed and his two colleagues were injured in a raid at 3am which aimed to force the suspect out.
The shocking incident in Nakhon Ratchasima – also known as Korat – captured the Thai social media users’ attention, hence the hashtag #กราดยิงโคราช (Shooting Spree at Korat) was widely used along with the hashtag #savekorat by those praying for safety of those who were still trapped at the mall at the time.