Death toll from Thai childcare center mass shooting rises to 36
The death toll from a mass shooting at a childcare center on Thursday in northeast Thailand's Nong Bua Lamphu province has risen to 38, most of them children, local authorities said.
The shooting occurred at noon. Police identified the attacker as a former police officer who was arrested early this year over drug allegations and was dismissed from his post in June. He was supposed to face trial on drugs charge in court on Friday, National Police Chief Damrongsak Kittipraphat told a press conference hours after the incident.
When the attacker intruded into the childcare center, he was suspected to be under the influence of drugs and stress due to the upcoming trial, Damrongsak said.
The number of the victims included the shooter and his family members, who were found dead in his home house, Damrongsak said, without mentioning the number of the injured in the incident.
"About the horrifying incident, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families of the dead and injured," Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wrote on social media, adding that he has ordered the national police chief to "fast-track an investigation."
Prayut will head to Nong Bua Lamphu province on Friday in support of the family of the victims, and he has ordered the provision of psychological counseling services to the people concerned, acting government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said Thursday.
TV footage showed ambulances and families of the victims gathering outside the childcare center after the incident.
"I cannot see my child's face," cried a man, who lost his pregnant wife in the incident, as a video showed the heartbroken man crying on the ground at the scene. He and his wife, a teacher at the childcare center, were expecting a baby next month.
A woman working at the childcare center told a local TV program that they were having lunch when she heard the sound and saw the injured falling to the ground. The shooter broke the window in as the door was locked, and she succeeded in fleeing the scene, she said.
Suwit Chanwon, deputy provincial governor, said, "We are making sure that all the injured and the family members of the victims are well treated."
According to Anucha, the family of the deceased will get a compensation of 200,000 baht (about 5,360 US dollars) per person.
After the incident, many locals rushed to the Nong Bua Lamphu provincial hospital in response to its urgent call for blood donation for the injured.