More than 30 people were killed, over 20 of whom were children, in a mass shooting and stabbing Thursday at a childcare facility in northeastern Thailand, marking the deadliest tragedy ever committed by a single perpetrator in the country’s history.
According to the New York Times, the suspect — who later died by suicide — used a 9-millimeter gun and knife to kill at least 24 children at the Child Development Center Uthaisawan in Nong Bua Lamphu Province, an agricultural district around 330 miles northeast of Bangkok.
Among the victims was also a teacher who was eight months pregnant when was stabbed to death by 34-year-old Panya Kamrab, a former corporal in Thailand’s police force who was reportedly fired recently following an arrest for possession of methamphetamine.
CNN reports that the shooter appeared in court earlier in the day on charges of “selling narcotics.” According to the Royal Thai Police, the suspect also killed his wife and stepson — who attended the school — before shooting himself.
“[The shooter] went to look for his two-year-old son, but the boy was not there … so he started shooting as well as stabbing people at the nursery,” police spokesperson Maj. General Paisan Luesomboon told CNN.
The tragedy is the deadliest in Thailand since 2020 when a soldier with an assault rifle opened fire on a military base and nearby shopping mall, killing nearly 30 people and wounding dozens more. While gun ownership in Thailand is higher than in its neighboring countries — there are more than 10.3 million civilian-owned firearms, or 15 guns per every 100 people, in Thailand — mass shootings in the country had been rare until recent years.
Thailand’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a statement Thursday, “My deepest condolences to the bereaved and injured families. Let all parties involved help and heal those affected urgently.”
“No child should be a target or witness of violence anywhere, anytime,” UNICEF said in a statement, “Early childhood development centers, schools, and all learning spaces must be safe havens for young children to learn, play and grow during their most critical years.”
Thursday’s mass shooting in Thailand comes nearly two weeks after a gunman wearing Nazi symbols opened fire at a school in Russia, killing at least 13 people.