Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy who went on a shooting rampage inside Siam Paragon shopping mall, killing two people and injuring five others — two of them critically — on Tuesday afternoon.
The teenager was brought to the Pathumwan police station for questioning but he was in a confused state, saying he had heard voices telling him to shoot people, according to Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, the national police chief.
The boy had received treatment in the past for mental health issues at Rajavithi Hospital, but Pol Gen Torsak said he did not want to discuss further details as the suspect was a minor.
The police chief confirmed two people were killed in the incident — earlier reports had put the death toll at three. The first was a 34-year-old Chinese woman who died on the ground floor of the shopping centre. The other was a woman from Myanmar who succumbed to her injuries at Police General Hospital.
Three injured people were sent to King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. One woman was shot in the head and her condition was listed as critical. The other two, a Thai man and a Chinese woman, were stable.
A 28-year-old Lao woman was taken to Bangkok Christian Hospital. She was reported to be in critical condition with after a bullet struck her in the armpit and entered her shoulder.
A Thai woman wounded in the left shoulder and taken to Police General Hospital was declared out of danger.
The deadly drama unfolded over less than 90 minutes from the time the teen entered the mall until the moment he surrendered without a struggle.
According to the timeline provided by police, the shooter entered Siam Paragon via BTS Link 2 at 3.35pm. Security video shows him carrying a shoulder bag as he walks to M floor five minutes later and then walks into a restroom.
Video and still images posted on social media show a long-haired Thai male in a black shirt and camouflage pants, wearing a baseball cap with an American flag and carrying a handgun.
At 4.10pm, gunshots were heard from inside the restroom, and the gunman walked out and kept firing. At 4.25pm he went to the second floor and continued shooting. A few minutes later he rode the escalator to the third floor and continued the shooting spree there. Police finally cornered him inside a furniture store on the third floor. He raised his arms slowly, put down his handgun and gave himself up. Officers moved in to cuff him.
As the shootings were taking place, hundreds of people started fleeing the mall and milling about outside on Rama I Road in Pathum Wan district. The entrances and exits of the mall were closed off. The BTS Skyway was also closed and the Skytrain was not stopping at the Siam BTS station. (Story continues below)
Thai police commandos arrive following a report of shots fired at Siam Paragon on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo: Reuters)
The mall closed early but many people remained inside, most of them police, journalists and assorted VIPs who had come to be briefed, among them Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.
Chada Thaiset, the deputy interior minister currently leading a high-profile crackdown on influential figures, was ushered to the place where the suspect was being held, and began interrogating him in front of the cameras.
Pol Gen Torsak subsequently cautioned that the suspect had certain rights as a minor, among them the right to be questioned in the presence of a counsellor.
The suspect is reported to be a student at a private school in Bangkok and his parents are professors. When police searched the teen’s room at his home they found many rounds of ammunition including 49 9mm bullets and 15 spent shells of various sizes.
A search of his phone reportedly turned up videos of him practising using a firearm. (Story continues below)
A police officer points to an airgun target found in the room of the Paragon shooting suspect. (Photo: Central Investigation Bureau Facebook)
The shooting comes just days before the one-year anniversary of one of the bloodiest days in recent Thai history, when an ex-police officer armed with a knife and gun attacked a nursery, murdering 24 children and 12 adults.
Thailand has high rates of gun ownership and has a long and violent history of firearm incidents, both small and large.
In 2020, a former army officer went on a rampage in a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, murdering 29 people and wounding scores more.
CCTV footage shows police apprehending a 14-year-old gunman on the third floor of Siam Paragon on Tuesday afternoon.