October 5, 2023
BANGKOK – Less than 24 hours after a shooting that killed two foreigners, Siam Paragon shopping centre opened its doors at 10am on Wednesday.
A must-visit shopping destination for locals and tourists visiting the Thai capital, the luxury complex, which usually sees milling crowds throughout the day, was relatively empty.
“I’m sure people will stay away from the mall for at least the next few days,” said spectacle shop employee Ratchanee Boonkusol, 47.
With Tuesday evening’s shooting, which also injured five people, still fresh on everyone’s minds, employees could be seen gathered in small groups in the mall, or in the restrooms speaking in hushed tones.
One cashier, who declined to give her personal details, said: “I don’t want to discuss it, I’m still shocked.”
She had hidden in her booth when the shooting suspect, a 14-year-old boy, made his way around the atrium on the second floor. The suspect reportedly started his shooting rampage around 4pm on the M floor of Siam Paragon, which is connected to the Siam SkyTrain station, in the heart of the city’s shopping belt. He was arrested in a store on the third floor. Earlier reports on Tuesday said he was arrested at a hotel linked to the mall.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the authorities said security will be ramped up not just at Siam Paragon, but also at other malls in the area.
Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said law enforcement agencies will also tighten weapons screening at shopping malls and other tourist spots.
When The Straits Times visited the mall at 10am, security personnel were stationed near metal detectors at the entrance as usual, and bag checks – which are not usually done – were conducted on most people entering the mall.
While most shops on the upper floors were open, some luxury brands on level M, which is below level 1, remained shuttered at noon.
There were some hints of the tragedy that had unfolded on Tuesday, with workers seen fixing several damaged shopfronts, and cordons placed around a row of barriers that was missing a glass panel.
There was also a spiderweb crack on one of the glass panels on level two, and several markings with police forensic labels on a boarded-up shopfront of a luxury brand store.
Flowers were placed near the entrance of the mall, with a note of blessing for those who were killed.
An Australian expatriate, who lives on the island of Koh Samui and was visiting Bangkok, had planned to go to the mall on Tuesday afternoon, but instead returned to his hotel to rest.
“I had visited some malls earlier yesterday, and by the time I wanted to go to Paragon, I was too tired, which was a fortunate thing,” Mr Jamie McLeod, 67, told ST on Wednesday near the mall’s entrance.
“I am a bit freaked out, but not scared,” said the retiree, noting that the shooting, which he had seen on the news, was an isolated incident.
Some shoppers like Russian tourist Alexandra Samylin, 35, an engineer, were oblivious to the incident.
“Maybe if I had heard of it, I might not have come today,” she said.