Shooting at shopping mall in Bangkok: Teenage suspect modified pistol, faces five charges - Police

04 Oct 2023 09:41pm
Thai police officers secure Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok on Oct 3, following a shooting incident in the mall. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)
Thai police officers secure Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok on Oct 3, following a shooting incident in the mall. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)

BANGKOK - The teenage gunman who was suspected of killing two people and injuring five others inside Bangkok's Siam Paragon Mall used a pistol that was modified to fire real bullets.

Assistant Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, Pol Lt Gen Samran Nualma said the 14-year-old boy was taken into custody less than an hour after the first gunshots on Tuesday. The boy was immediately sent to the Pathumwan police station.

"The teenage boy used a modified plastic gun that fired real bullets. The barrel had been altered.

"The Royal Thai Police is reviewing regulations and laws related to gun control, which include regulations governing materials used to make weapons,” he said at a press conference here today.

The teenager, who has a history of mental health problems, allegedly shot dead a Chinese and Myanmar national and injured five others inside Siam Paragon Mall at 4:20 pm on Tuesday. The injured victims comprise one Laotian, one Chinese national, and three Thai nationals.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol said the shooting incident at Siam Paragon Mall, Thailand’s most iconic tourist destination for both locals and foreigners, was an isolated incident but it is one of great concern.

"The enforcement agencies will step up security measures including weapon screening in public areas and tourist spots,” she said.

The popular shopping mall, reopened for business today.

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A visit to the mall today found that metal detectors have been installed at its entrances and security guards are conducting searches of customers' bags at all entrances.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin returned to Siam Paragon Mall to open "SCBX NEXT TECH”, the world’s first tech community of the future era at Level 4 of the mall, today.

He assured that the government is committed to preventing the recurrence of such incidents in the future.

"It is a force majeure event. However, I believe that government officials and Siam Paragon Mall have tried their best to minimise this damage.

"We hope that this incident is just a one-time event. The government confirms that we will definitely pay attention to the various preventive measures,” he wrote on X.

Srettha said the government will tighten control of the online sale of blank guns to prevent minors from accessing them.

Meanwhile in a separate news conference, Commander of the Metropolitan Police Division, Pol Maj Gen Nakarin Sukontawit, said the suspect faces five charges, including premeditated murder and possession of a firearm without a permit.

He is also charged with attempted murder, carrying a firearm in public without a permit, and shooting in public without a permit.

"Police may consider additional charges for the bullets found after searching the suspect's room in Lak Song where they discovered a BB gun and plenty of ammunition,” he said.

Nakarin added that the police are probing the teenage gunman's parents to see if they violated the Child Protection Act.

Local media reported that parents of the teenager may violated Section 429 of the Civil and Commercial Code, which holds parents responsible for the crimes of their minor children unless they can prove that they provide adequate care and supervision.

The teenager has been moved from juvenile court to a detention centre today. His parent did not bail him out.

Mass shootings are rare in Thailand; however, this is the third gun attack in recent years.

In 2020, a soldier shot and killed 29 people and wounded 58 in a rampage that spanned four locations around the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima.

On Oct 6 last year, 36 people were killed in a gun and knife attack at a childcare centre in Nong Bua Lamphu province. It was the country’s deadliest incident of its kind. - BERNAMA

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