Family members mourning the staggering loss Friday left flowers at the scene of a police officer’s massacre of scores of people, including children as young as 2 who were napping, at a daycare center in rural northeastern Thailand.
Following Thursday’s gruesome attack in a little town hidden among rice paddies in one of the poorest parts of the country, the entire nation was in shock. The attack, the bloodiest mass shooting in Thailand, claimed the lives of 36 persons, at least 24 of them were children.
“I sobbed till there were no more tears left in my eyes. They are circling around in my heart “said Seksan Sriraj, 28, whose pregnant wife died in the attack at the Young Children’s Development Center in Uthai Sawan and was expected to give birth this month.
“My wife and child have left for a tranquil location. I have to live because I am still here. My wife and child won’t be reborn in the next life if I can’t continue because they would be worried about me “explained him.
On Friday morning, wreaths were placed at ceremonial tables in front of the center’s main door by royal and governmental dignitaries wearing white military uniforms. A fading Thai flag was flying at half-staff overhead. They were followed by sobbing family members who laid white flowers on the wooden floor before joining hands in prayer.
Later, as paramedics transported the remains back to the daycare facility so that waiting families could pick them up, town residents lined the streets to watch.
Later in the day, King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida of Thailand were anticipated to visit the hospitals where seven of the ten injured persons are still being treated. It was anticipated that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha would visit the hospitals and daycare center. In a park in the heart of Bangkok, a vigil was organized.
The attacker was identified by authorities as Panya Kamrap, 34, a former police sergeant who was dismissed earlier this year due to a methamphetamine-related criminal offense. He was scheduled to be up in court on Friday. A staff member revealed to a Thai television station that Panya’s son had gone to the daycare.
Seksan mentioned the assailant was a police officer when asked if he felt the center was secure enough. “He came with the intent to carry out what he had planned. I believe that everyone gave it their best effort.”
Before moving toward the center, according to witnesses, the assailant shot a man and a child in front of it. The shooter kicked and shot his way through the glass front door that the teachers had secured. The majority of the kids, who were 2 and 3 years old, had been napping in the afternoon, and images obtained by emergency personnel showed their small bodies still laying on blankets. Images of the victims’ faces being slashed and gunshot wounds to their heads were visible.
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