- Gunman was volatile, he fired a gun at home
- Village headman warned him about violence
- Police acknowledged slow response
THA UTHAI, Thailand, October 12 (Reuters) – The ex-police sergeant behind Thailand’s worst massacre was firing a gun in his backyard days before killing 36 people, including 22 of them stabbed while asleep.
Neighbors said the sound of 34-year-old Panya Khamrap’s 9mm pistol broke the silence during several nights in the sleepy village of Tha Uthai.
This was the latest show of violence for the once-village success story ex-police officer who, despite still investing in some of the authority bestowed by his old job, turns into an angry, introverted man in a downward spiral.
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
“How were we going to report him to the police? He was the police,” said Phuwan Polyeam, 29, who lives nearby with his two children.
Panya shot and stabbed his neighbors, including a childhood friend, in a three-hour attack in his hometown, killing 36 people.
The 22 child victims in the nursery were boys and girls aged two to five years. In seven hospitals.
Violence – deadliest massacre The number of children anywhere in recent years – has stunned the country.
Authorities initially blamed the drugs. Panya was identified by the police as a user of methamphetamine pills known as yaba and was fired in January for drug possession.
Police, however, said at an autopsy last Thursday that there were no traces of drugs in Panya’s system on the day of the murders.
General Surachate Hakparn, Thailand’s deputy chief of police, told Reuters that the violence stemmed from “exploded emotion” and cited his dismissal from the police and legal, money and family problems.
Panya’s movements that day are uncertain. Multiple murders have been committed in different locations, and the police have yet to make a comprehensive statement.
Reuters created a timeline of events through interviews with neighbors, witnesses and an investigator.
They described three hours of horror and a slow police response. Phone records confirmed many details.
Surachate acknowledged that the police response was slow and that officers arrived too late to stop the murder. He also pointed lawThis prohibits even licensed gun owners from shooting at home or in public.
“If there was an arrest, these wouldn’t have happened,” he said.
SIGNS OF TROUBLE
Nong Bua Lam Phu is a poor northeastern province filled with rice and sugarcane fields.
Panya grew up in the remote village of Tha Uthai and attended high school before earning a place to study law at one of Bangkok’s top universities. He later got a job in the police and worked in some of the capital’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
However, he returned home in 2020. A newly divorced woman who works at a karaoke bar and moves in with her son.
He worked at a police station but was fired for drugs in January. Colleagues said he got angry easily and got into fights.
There were other disturbing signs as well. A neighbor said he locked his girlfriend and son inside while they were going out.
The vice-president of a neighboring village told the media that Panya praised the slaughter of 29 people at the hands of a soldier in another province in 2020 and said he would kill more. He refused to be interviewed.
Another neighbor said the village chief had warned Panya of his behavior days before the attack. Neighbor Suwan Tonsomsen said they had an argument and the village headman said he was scared. The chef could not be reached for comment.
Earlier on the day of the massacre, Panya appeared in court on drug charges. The decision would be made the next day. Before dawn, the neighbors heard him arguing with his girlfriend in their small house on the edge of the village. The police said he told her you were leaving him.
Reuters was unable to determine what happened in court, but the media reported, citing neighbors, that Panya’s lawyer asked him to show evidence of good character. Another neighbor told Reuters he saw Panya’s mother with her diploma.
When he got home, the police said that Panya’s girlfriend and son were gone.
He left around noon in a white pickup truck. Turning the corner, she bumped into a man on a motorcycle in front of a small shop. According to the witness, Sombat Rattani, who ran the shop, he knocked down the window and shot her.
Sombat said the mortally wounded man crawled towards the shop begging for help. He saw Panya through the window, the gun was pointed at him, and he thought he was going to die. They knew each other. He bought water from the panya shop.
The board did not shoot. Instead, he drove to an intersection where he bumped into a group of people, abandoned his truck, and stabbed them. Three people were killed and several injured.
From there, he went to the administrative complex where the Uthai Sawan Child Development Center is located, a pink, one-story building next to a government office.
When the panya arrived at around 12:30 in the afternoon, the teachers at the nursery had put the children to bed for a nap.
He attacked the people in the courtyard, shot some, cut others with a long knife that the farmers used to cut crops.
Several people were killed there.
“Everything happened so fast and there was blood everywhere,” said Kittisak Polprakap, a 29-year-old office worker.
“I saw the wounded and the dead sitting side by side at a table as if nothing had happened.”
People ran. Two female employees, 48-year-old Jidapha Boonsom and 25-year-old Saowaluk Keeta, burst into an office overlooking the nursery.
Some staff called the police but were told they were busy elsewhere.
Panya fired twice at the nursery door and kicked it open, an eyewitness told the media. For about 20 minutes, he went from room to room, shooting the teachers and cutting the children with his machete.
Some teachers have fled over a wall, but not Supaporn Pramongmook, 26, who is eight months pregnant. Another teacher, Maliwan Lasopha, tried to beg Panya. They played together as children.
He killed them both.
‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’
Office workers said that Panya calmly appeared and walked away, holding the knife.
The news of violence spread with photos appearing on social media. Suwimon Sudfanpitak, the aunt of one of the children killed that day, rushed to the complex to see two bodies outside the nursery. “The teacher came to apologize, saying there was nothing she could do to save the children,” he said.
The only child to leave the nursery uninjured is a three-year-old. mom, performed with a blanket covering the eyes.
After returning to his neighborhood by car, a neighbor approached Panya. “What are you doing?” the man asked. “I’m here to kill you,” Panya replied. Witness Phuwan Polyeam shot and killed the neighbor before he fatally attacked another.
Another villager, Suwan’s daughter-in-law, was hiding in her house with her two children, keeping quiet while sending wild messages to Suwan, covering her toddler son’s mouth with her hand. “He’s here,” someone read.
Suwan’s phone records show multiple calls to the police. “They said there wasn’t enough police,” he said, and they had to wait for a commando unit. “It took them some time,” he said.
Suwan says Panya left after trying to burn their car. He walked back home and at about 3 pm burned his truck, shooting his girlfriend, his son, and then himself.
The community is rocking.
“Everyone gets depressed,” said shop owner Sombat. “But the solution is not crime… Why did he attack children, harm them? That’s what we’re asking.”
Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Additional reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Panu Wongcha-Um, Vorasit Satienlerk, Chayut Setboonsarng and Ardchawit Inha; Written by Poppy McPherson; Edited by Robert Birsel
Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Leave a Comment