Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai families mourn 29 killed in mass shooting at mall




Thai families mourn 29 killed in mass shooting at mall

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Relatives and family hold pictures as the coffins of Swat team members Trakool Tha-arsa (front) and Petcharat Kamjadpai, killed in the mass shooting, are transported. AFP

Thai families mourn 29 killed in mass shooting at mall

Grieving relatives of 29 people murdered by a rogue soldier in Thailand held Buddhist prayer ceremonies on Monday, as questions multiply over how and why the unprecedented shooting spree happened.

Holding portraits of their relatives and dabbing away tears, families of the victims arrived at a city morgue in Nakhon Ratchasima, better known as Korat, to carry home coffins bearing their dead.

The killer started his rampage on Saturday afternoon with weapons stolen from a barracks’ arsenal, where he gunned down Mehta Lertsiri, 22, who was guarding the depot.

“I don’t know what to do next,” Mehta’s grief-stricken grandfather, Udom Prapotsang, said outside of the morgue waiting to claim his body.

“His four-year-old son keeps asking why he can’t call his dad. I will remember to tell him fond stories about his dad.”

Flowers and messages of condolences mounted outside the bullet-riddled mall where a terrifying siege unfolded on Saturday night.

The killer, armed with automatic weapons, held out for 17 hours as hundreds of shoppers cowered in toilets, storerooms and under tables.

“R.I.P. Korat, we will not forget,” said one of the condolence messages left in a growing tribute outside the Terminal 21 mall in the northeastern city.

The gunman – Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma – was shot dead by a commando unit on Sunday morning, ending a rampage that left 29 dead and scores more wounded.

A Buddhist monk in orange robes led a prayer ceremony on a grass verge outside the mall for Peeraphat Palasan, who was shot dead as the gunman sprayed bullets into traffic, killing the 25-year-old engineer and causing his car to crash.

His father, Witoon, was among a dozen mourners crying, kneeling, hands clasped – some holding incense sticks – in prayer.

“My son had just finished work and came here to go shopping,” Witoon said. “I never thought I would lose him so soon.”

Lucky survivors have recounted hiding across the mall, keeping up to speed with the gunman’s movements through friends on the outside and snippets of CCTV footage shared over messaging groups.

As Korat – and the country – mourned, there were growing questions about why the gunman went on a killing spree over an apparent private debt to a senior officer and how he was able to steal weapons, including an M60 machine gun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Divisive Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was hammered on social media for a tone-deaf response to the crisis during a visit to the city on Sunday where he posed for selfies, high-fived a crowd and smiled before shutting down questions from the media at a press conference.

“There should be no smiles, joking around and touching hands like people are your fan club,” popular blogger Sorakon Adulyanon, aka Noom Muang Chan, said on Facebook.

Others drew unfavourable comparisons with the dignified response of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the Christchurch mass shooting last year.

As criticism snowballed, the gruff former army chief Prayut was prodded into a rare act of contrition late on Sunday.

“We are all saddened by what happened,” he said on his official Facebook page.

“I intended to offer my moral support … my expression may have been misunderstood or made many people uncomfortable.”

The state-owned Government Savings Bank on Monday announced it would provide financial assistance to the victims of the massacre.

The debts of the police and military personnel who were killed in action will be written off and their families will receive 100,000 baht ($3,200), according to The Nation.

Civilians with unpaid debts to the bank who perished in the attack will have their interest rates adjusted to 0.01 per cent for the remainder of the repayment, while those critically injured will have their rates lowered to 0.01 per cent for five years, The Nation reported.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from