Thirty-eight people, including 24 children and a pregnant teacher, were died in northeastern Thailand on Thursday after a former police officer who had just appeared in court on drug charges went on a shooting and stabbing spree at a day care center, police said.
As he fled the scene of the massacre, the attacker drove into people and shot bystanders before traveling home where he killed his wife and their child, police said.
The suspect used a 9mm handgun but mainly attacked the children with a knife, a police press conference confirmed later Thursday.
Paisal Luesomboon, a police spokesperson, told the ThaiPBS TV channel that witnesses saw the attacker use a knife and a gun.
“He started shooting, slashing, killing children at the Utai Sawan day care center,” he said.
At least 12 people were wounded, eight of them seriously, and were receiving medical treatment, the office of Police Gen. Surachete Hakparn said.
Among those who died in Uthai Sawan, which is 310 miles northeast of Bangkok in the province of Nong Bua Lamphu, were 19 boys and three girls, police said.
The suspect, whom police named as 34-year-old Panya Khamrab, had served at Na Wang Police Station in Nong Bua Bamphu province until he was arrested with methamphetamines last year, officials said.
Khamrab took his own life after the rampage, the officer in charge of the case, Col. Jackrapat Wijitwaitaya, told NBC News.
The suspect had appeared in court hours earlier Thursday on a drug charge that saw him fired from the police last year.
Khamrab entered the center at lunchtime when about 30 children were present, local official Jidapa Boonsom told Reuters. One teacher who was shot dead was eight months pregnant, she said.
Pictures circulating on social media, which have not been verified by NBC News, show children’s bodies lying in a room with alphabet posters and colorful learning material on the walls.
Police urged people to not share graphic pictures and videos of the scene.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has also ordered Lt. Gen. Yanyong Wech-Osoth, the commander in chief of the police, to fly to Nong Bua Lamphu to help with the investigation.
Mass shootings are rare in Thailand, but not unknown.
In 2020, a soldier who was angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations.
Jon Ungphakorn, a former Thai senator, wrote on Facebook that Thailand should have “strict gun control and restrictions like Japan, England and many European countries,” but added that this would require a citizen-led government to be realized