A teenager in Thailand suspected of killing two people in a shooting spree at a high-end shopping centre in the capital, Bangkok, will be charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder and illegal firearms possession, among other offences, police said.
The suspect, who is 14, will be sent to a juvenile court later on Wednesday, Major General Nakarin Sukhontawit of Bangkok police said, adding that officers were having difficulties communicating with the suspect.
Police said the teenager appeared to have suffered a psychological breakdown and had modified a handgun, which was designed to fire blanks, to allow him to fire live ammunition.
Chaos erupted at Bangkok’s luxury Siam Paragon mall close to peak hour on Tuesday when gunshots rang out, killing two women, from China and Myanmar, and wounding five others, two foreigners and three Thai nationals.
Police said the teenage suspect, who was arrested unharmed later on Tuesday after he put his weapon down, was receiving psychological treatment and had not taken his prescribed medication earlier in the day.
Thai media reported that the suspect was a student at a prominent private school. Investigators are looking into the teen’s background and plan to speak to his friends, who are online gamers, about his mental state, according to reports.
“The suspect had a breakdown psychologically and it fits an active shooter profile,” National Police Chief Torsak Sukvimol said in a television interview.
“Initially I spoke to him to calm him down … he appeared to hear someone speaking to him, he was hearing things, a noise he said told him to shoot,” the police chief said.
Tuesday’s shooting in the shopping centre comes just days ahead of the first anniversary of the mass killing of 35 people, including 22 children, at a nursery in northeastern Thailand, during an hours-long gun and knife attack by a former policeman who later shot himself dead.
In 2020, a Thai soldier shot and killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations around the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima.
Siam Paragon is Thailand’s most famous high-end shopping mall, drawing throngs of domestic and foreign shoppers daily to its luxury stores, aquarium, cinema and food court dining.
Local news site Khaosod English reported on Wednesday that visitors to Siam Paragon continued to walk through metal detectors without being checked a day after the shooting.
Source: Al Jazeera