Thai soldier whose rampage killed at least 20 in Korat killed inside mall

Security forces embrace this morning after ending the standoff at the Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall.
Security forces embrace this morning after ending the standoff at the Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall.

A soldier who killed at least 21 people in a mass shooting that began on an army base and ended in a shopping mall standoff was killed by police Sunday morning.

Nearly 18 hours after the first shots were fired, 32-year-old Sgt. Jakrapanth Thomma was killed by security forces at about 9am, police announced this morning. He had been holed up inside the Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall since late Saturday afternoon and gunfire was heard sporadically through the night into dawn. One officer was killed during the final assault.

Before Jakraphanth was killed, nine hostages were rescued at about 6:30am. There was no immediate word on any other hostages he was reported to have taken.

Heavy gunfire can be heard in a video posted online and broadcast on television said to be the moment the gunman was killed. As people try to make sense of what unfolded on a Buddhist national holiday, tributes were pouring in for police Capt. Trakul Ta-arsa, who was killed by the gunman during the raid.

In an orgy of violence that seemed made for the social media spotlight, Jakrapanth shot dozens civilians and security forces in running battles with the authorities before escaping into the mall in what is Thailand’s third most populous city. His youngest victim was a 9-year-old boy. He had been live streaming and updating social media in real time with messages and videos of the attack before and after.

“No one can escape death” and “Should I give up?” were some of his messages posted online. While his motive was yet unclear, the man mentioned “revenge” on his Facebook account, which has been deactivated since 7pm.

Prior to Capt. Trakul’s death, 20 people had been killed by the gunman, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at 11:45pm. Sixteen died at the scene; four later at hospital. At least 31 were injured. The dead included at least two children: boys 9 and 13.

Update: Hostages at mall among 30 dead as Korat reels from trauma

Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanich confirmed that the man was a soldier stationed at the Surathampitak Military Base in Nakhon Ratchasima province. There were unconfirmed rumors online that he had been using the hostages as human shields.

Just before 8pm, he was said to have taken upward of 14 hostages.  Police had advised those trapped inside the mall to call hotline 1195 and keep their phone volumes as low as possible to avoid detection by the shooter. Just before midnight, the Crime Suppression Division tweeted that special unit forces had secured the ground floor of the mall.

There were reports at about 10:20pm that most of those trapped inside the mall were rescued or able to escape. It was unclear whether they included any hostages.

Before sunset on Saturday, heavy gunfire could be heard in a video filmed outside the mall.
A CCTV camera image shows the gunman inside Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall early Saturday evening.
A CCTV camera image shows the gunman inside Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall early Saturday evening.

Before Jakrapanth’s Facebook page became unavailable, he had written about studying the methodology of Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who in 2011 murdered 69 people, mostly children, at a summer camp.

The spree started Saturday afternoon when Jakrapanth reportedly shot several people including his commanding officer at the army base, leaving at least two dead and one injured. He then stole a number of firearms and a Humvee. He fled, shooting several guards, at least one fatally.

He fled the base in the Humvee, shooting a pursuing policeman on his way to the mall, according to Daily News. He opened fire on a gas tank, setting it aflame, before fleeing into the mall.

It’s the latest in a series of what have been relatively rare mass shootings in the kingdom. It comes one month after a masked gunman opened fire at a gold shop inside a shopping mall in Lopburi province, killing at least three people, including a toddler, and three months after a retired police officer gunned down several people inside a courtroom.

An image posted to the suspected shooter's social media after he started a fire Saturday at the Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall.
An image posted to the suspected shooter’s social media after he started a fire Saturday at the Terminal 21 Korat shopping mall.

This is a developing story and may be updated without notice.

Related:

Reward money for info on gunman who killed 3 at Lopburi gold shop

Mass shooting in Thai courtroom kills 2 as retired cop opens fire on opposing counsel

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME

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