BANGKOK — A 14-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday (Oct 3) after a shooting at a packed Bangkok mall that left two people dead and five wounded, and sent hundreds of panicked shoppers running in terror into the streets.
Witnesses told AFP of chaotic scenes as shots rang out at the upmarket Siam Paragon mall in the heart of the Thai capital around 4.30pm (5.30pm, Singapore time).
The shooting comes just days before the first anniversary of the deadliest massacre in modern Thai history, when an ex-policeman armed with a gun and knife attacked a nursery in the country’s north, murdering 24 children and 12 adults.
National Police Chief Torsak Sukwimol told reporters that two women — one Chinese, one from Myanmar — were killed in the mall shooting, and five other people wounded.
He said the 14-year-old suspect was in custody but was too confused to undergo questioning.
“He is a mental patient at Rajavithi hospital and he has not been taking his medication,” Mr Torsak said.
“He said it was like there was another him telling him who to shoot.”
Video footage showed a long-haired boy wearing a black shirt, glasses and a cap with a United States flag motif being taken into custody by police.
Mr Yuthana Srettanan, director of the Erawan Emergency Centre, told reporters that all but one of those who were shot were women.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin offered condolences to the victims’ families and said he was monitoring the situation closely.
“What I care about most right now is the safety of all citizens,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“I ask all workers to monitor the situation, and may everyone be safe.”
A private school called The Essence, just metres from Siam Paragon, confirmed the suspect was one of their students and offered condolences to the victims’ families.
“We will collaborate with the authorities and investigators for the benefit of those involved,” Mr Wiwat Catithammanit, director of the US$4,000 (S$5,500)-a-term school said in a statement.
In another video, shared on Facebook and verified by AFP, scores of people can be seen in the mall’s basement car park being directed by loudspeakers.
Dozens of police vehicles and a number of ambulances could be seen outside one of the shopping centre’s main entrances in the wake of the shooting.
“I heard multiple gunshots — about three times — and saw people running around towards the exits,” Mr Nattanon Dungsunenarn, who was shopping in a branch of Boots pharmacy, told AFP.
“It was very chaotic and seemed like many people didn’t know what exactly was going on.”