The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Facebook killer’s five-mile selfie shooting spree
20 dead as deranged Thai soldier live streams assault rifle rampage across panic-stricken city
A SERVING soldier killed at least 20 people in a shooting spree in Thailand yesterday – streaming the carnage live on Facebook while posing for gruesome ‘selfies’.
Sergeant Jakrkrapanth Thomma, 32, left a five-mile trail of terror across the city of Korat, 160 miles north-east of the capital Bangkok, littering the streets with dead and wounded during a Buddhist bank holiday, before taking at least ten hostages in the city’s Terminal 21 shopping centre.
Police and Special Forces swarmed through the mall last night while Thomma reportedly threatened to set off grenades and explosives.
Hundreds of people were evacuated from the building as the commandos cleared it floor by floor, with the gunman still in hiding.
Chilling CCTV footage showed Thomma strolling casually through the deserted shopping centre, carrying ammunition in a shoulder bag and holding an assault rifle with a handgun holstered on his belt. His rampage left 31 people injured.
The killing spree began at 3.30pm local time (8.30am in the UK) when Thomma shot his commanding officer, Colonel Anantharot Krasae, 48, along with two other people.
He then stole a Humvee along with six weapons, hand grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the Suatham Phithak military base.
As he drove five miles towards the centre of the city also known as Nakhon Ratchasima, Thomma opened fire indiscriminately on civilians along the road in cars and on motorbikes.
The soldier also raked a Buddhist temple and posted photos of himself online dressed in full tactical gear and holding an assault rifle.
At one point he shot a gas tank outside the mall, causing a massive explosion and fire.
The gunman posted a series of disturbing messages on his Facebook page, including: ‘Death is inevitable for everyone’ and ‘Should I surrender?’.
In one Facebook video – since deleted – he filmed from an open vehicle saying, ‘I’m tired... I can’t pull my finger anymore,’ making a trigger movement with his hand.
Thomma also posted a picture of a revolver with the caption: ‘It is time to get excited.’
A squad of elite commandos was scrambled by helicopter from Bangkok and could be seen preparing to storm the shopping centre.
Last night, more than ten hours after the first killing, security forces had sealed off the shopping centre and evacuated civilians.
Police later confirmed that all of the hostages had been rescued from the mall, but Thomma was still at large.
There were sporadic reports of further gunshots, with the latest appearing to be an attempt by the soldier to escape via the back of the building. Terrified eyewitnesses told how they ran for their lives or hid as the horror unfolded. Expat English teacher Jon Fielding, 32, from Hailsham, East Sussex, who lives in the city, said: ‘People were running and screaming.
‘That was when I knew something bad was happening. Everyone was hiding in shops and restaurants. We were told a well-armed and trained soldier was on the loose so everyone turned off the lights and hid in the kitchen.
‘We were told to make no noise and stay down. News was coming in that he was on the fourth floor, where I was, and he had hostages and bombs. I was hiding in the dark for five hours until armed forces evacuated us.’
The authorities put nearby hospitals on alert and made appeals for blood donations.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said that one doctor was shot while helping a victim.
One Filipino woman said that her brother, a teacher, was trapped in the shopping centre with a group of pupils who had been celebrating their high school prom.
Young mother Nattaya Nganiem was driving home from the mall at the time.
She said: ‘We heard a loud sound and then we could see people starting to run out. First I saw a woman run out from the mall
‘Death is inevitable for everyone’ ‘I had to hide in the dark for five hours’
hysterically. Then a motorcycle rider in front of her ran and left his motorcycle there.
‘I thought, “What’s happening?” Then we heard several gunshots.
‘The motorcycle guy probably had seen the gunman from where he was.
‘We couldn’t see the gunman but we could hear the sound of the gun. It was terrifying.
‘We were just inside having dinner and my child was getting unusually restless – that’s why we left. Otherwise we would have been stuck inside there.
‘I can’t believe this is happening in my hometown.’