A frenzied gunman who killed at least 22 people and injured 42 others in a shooting rampage in northeastern Thailand was killed by police commandos after a shootout Sunday morning.
Police chief Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda said the heavily-armed gunman identified as Sgt. Jakrapanth Thomma was killed inside Terminal 21 shopping mall after a nearly 18-hour shooting rampage and shootout with the police.
The soldier was attached to an army camp in Nakhon Ratchasima province, about 160 km northeast of Bangkok.
The last shootout inside the mall occurred at about 5:30 a.m. local time, according to the police chief.
Sgt. Jakrapanth reportedly killed at least 22 people, including six policemen of Arintharat police commando unit, and wounded 42 others in his shooting rampage around the shopping mall in the downtown area of Nakorn Ratchasima city, police said.
Armed with an HK-33 rifle and ammunition, and clad in a combat fatigue and army helmet, Sgt. Jakrapanth drove an army vehicle to the shopping mall and opened fire at shoppers in the weekend’s massacre in downtown Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.
The 32-year-old soldier, attached to Suratham Phithak camp in the northeastern province, reportedly killed a dozen people, including two army officers, and wounded others along the way from a house to the shopping mall, the police said.
The frenzied sergeant broke into an army unit where war weapons and ammunition are stored and left with a Humvee vehicle, three HK-33 rifles and other ammunition.
He opened fire outside the front gate of the shopping mall at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday after killing 12 people with a handgun on his way to the mall.
The sergeant had a dispute over a land deal with the army officers and a woman whom he shot dead in the house. He posted updates on his Facebook page, following the shooting rampage at the mall on Saturday afternoon. His Facebook page was shut down hours later.
The gunman fired at a huge gas tank which immediately caught fire just outside the shopping mall before he got inside from the front door and sprayed bullets indiscriminately.
Hundreds of shoppers inside the mall took cover during the shooting rampage and were brought out safely in groups by policemen. A number of other shoppers and vendors were believed to remain and be held hostage by the gunman in the mall since late afternoon until dawn, the police said.
In the wee hours of Sunday, two police commandos were reportedly killed and another one seriously wounded in a shootout with Sgt. Jakrapanth who had been holed up inside the mall since late Saturday.
A group of Arintharat police had quietly entered the mall and engaged in a pre-dawn shootout with the lone gunman. He also shot down two drones hovering over the mall.
More injured people were brought out of the mall early Sunday morning. The police secured the area inside the after the gunman was gunned down and killed on the ground floor.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul pleaded for blood donation to save the more than 40 injured being treated in hospital.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will be arriving at Nakorn Ratchasima on Sunday after the deadly massive shooting. Enditem