October 4, 2023
BANGKOK – Two people were killed and five hurt as hundreds of shoppers fled Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok on Tuesday while gunshots were heard ringing near high-end retail stores.
Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau said a 14-year-old boy was arrested after police caught up with him on the third floor of the Siam Kempinski Hotel.
Footage from a security camera shows the purported shooter kneeling with his hands on his head as three officers close in on him. One officer then tackles him to the floor.
The Nation newspaper reported that the suspect surrendered after he ran out of bullets.
Other images of the supposed gunman show a man wearing camouflage trousers, a brown cap, a black jacket and military-style shoes. In one photo, he seems to be holding a handgun.
Videos and photos posted on social media show people rushing to the exits as an “active shooter” was reported to be prowling Siam Paragon mall at around 4pm.
Siam Paragon is Thailand’s most famous mall, drawing large numbers of people with its high-end stores, movie theatre, a 10,000 sq m aquarium, and hugely popular food-court dining. In 2013, it was named the world’s most photographed place by Instagram.
Emergency services said earlier in the day that at least three people were killed and three were injured in the incident. It later clarified that only one died.
But National Police Chief Torsak Sukvimol told reporters later in the evening that two people – a Chinese and a Myanmar national – had been killed in the shooting and that five were injured.
The Chinese tourist died on the spot, while the Myanmar national died in hospital, he said.
The five injured – one Lao national, one Chinese national and three Thais – suffered wounds in varying degrees of severity, said Mrs Kanchana Patarachoke, director-general of the Department of Information and Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman.
One image posted on X shows first responders treating a mall security guard who was reportedly shot in the back.
Police said the suspect – a student of a school near the mall – claimed that he thought someone was going to attack him, so he took out his Glock 9mm pistol and started shooting, according to The Nation.
Initial reports said gunshots were first heard coming from a toilet on the ground floor.
Shoppers who could not get to the exits took shelter inside stores at the mall.
A video posted on X shows men, women and children hurriedly making their way out of a grocery shop.
“We were eating ice cream when suddenly many people came running and looked scared. I heard someone say that there seems to be (gunshots),” X user Shirley (@xiaxia00701) said in her post.
Chinese tourist Xiong Ying, 41, told Agence France-Presse: “We didn’t know what was happening. Then staff from a shop asked us to go inside and said there was a shooter.”
“Everyone was trying to find a place to hide. So many people were terrified, just like a scene in the zombie movies,” she said. “I now feel quite scared. It happened just like two minutes after we left by crossing the bridge. We even took photos there.”
Mr Thanpawasit Singthongkham, 31, who works at a Japanese restaurant in the mall, said he heard “loud gun noises, continuously, about 10 times” at around 4.30pm.
“Then the department store announced that there was a shooting. The emergency sign was turned on and everyone ran to get out,” he said.
Ms Shir Yahav, a tourist from Israel, told Reuters she saw people running without understanding why – before hearing gunfire.
She said she was among a group who hid in a shop for “two hours, one hour and a half, something like that, and we blocked the door”.
Mr Jakkraphan Nakharisi, 29, an ice-cream seller who has worked at the mall for two years, told the BBC that he did not realise at first that the noises were gunshots.
“There were four to five of them. And then silence. Then there were probably another two shots. Then I heard someone in my shop shout, ‘There’s some shooting!’,” he recounted.
“I ducked behind the ice-cream tank immediately. I didn’t know where to run. I thought I couldn’t just go out recklessly.”
He said he heard security guards escorting people off the premises before he left “no more than 10 minutes after the shooting”.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told reporters the situation had been brought under control. “Police are clearing the scene. The situation is easing,” he said.
Mr Srettha expressed his sympathy and support for the families of those who died or were injured.
Bangkok Post reported that when the police searched the suspect’s room at his home where he lived with his parents who are professors, they found many rounds of ammunition, including 49 9mm bullets and 15 spent shells of various sizes.
They also found videos in his phone which showed him using a firearm.
The Singapore embassy in Thailand has advised Singaporeans to “continue to closely monitor the situation through local news reports and to follow the instructions of the Thai authorities”.
“The embassy will provide further updates if there are further developments. Please stay safe,” it said.
Gun violence is not uncommon in Thailand. An ex-police officer killed 22 children in a nursery in 2022 during a gun-and-knife attack, while in 2020, a soldier shot and killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage covering four locations in and around the north-eastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima.