Police arrest 14-year-old suspect after deadly shooting spree at Bangkok mall

Nontarat Phaicharoen and Wilawan Watcharasakwej
Police arrest 14-year-old suspect after deadly shooting spree at Bangkok mall Shoppers flee the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok to escape from a deadly shooting, Oct. 3, 2023.
Sakchai Lalit/AP

Police had a 14-year-old in custody after he allegedly killed at least two people and injured others during a shooting spree at an upscale Bangkok mall Tuesday, according to the national chief and spokespeople of hospitals where victims were taken.

The suspect – whose name was withheld because of his age – was apprehended within an hour of the shootings that caused pandemonium at Siam Paragon, one of the top malls in central Bangkok, authorities said. Police officers rushed to the scene to pursue the suspect who surrendered at a nearby hotel. 

Except for Thailand’s insurgency-stricken Deep South, mass shootings are relatively rare in the majority-Buddhist country, and gun violence carried out by teenagers is even rarer. 

“There were two people who died and five others who were injured,” Gen. Torsak Sukvimol, the national police chief, told reporters. 

Torsak said the teen had been treated for mental health issues at the Rajavithi Hospital but failed to take his medication. 

“He said something told him to kill this and that person. As far as when we talked to him, he barely spoke sensibly, [he] was oblivious,” Torsak said.

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A police officer handcuffs the teen suspected of the fatal shooting at the Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, Oct. 3, 2023. [Courtesy Pathumwan Police station]

As of 11 p.m. Tuesday (local time), those killed were identified as Zhao Jinnan of China and Moe Myint of Myanmar, while the injured were identified as three Thais, a Laotian and a Chinese national, according to the hospitals.

‘Babah and Mama are here’

On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin extended his condolences to the victims’ families. 

“I am deeply saddened to hear of your loss in the shooting at Siam Paragon and wish the families of the deceased, as well as those of the injured, to stay strong,” he said.

The crown prince of Johor, Malaysia, said he witnessed the attack from a nearby hotel lobby, according to a post on his Facebook page.

“People were shouting and running into the hotel from the mall when the shooter started firing,” Ismail Ibrahim, the crown prince, said in the post.

He said he and his security team carried his family to safety in the hotel basement.

“[T]he only thing on my mind was how many shooters were there, what weapons they had and what was the situation. We had to be on alert and be prepared for any circumstance because all we knew at that point were the gunshots we heard.

“I still have images of me telling my kids, ‘everything is going to be OK. Babah and Mama are here,’ and telling them to get down while waiting for the car,” he wrote. “My security team and I stood in front of my family, creating a human shield to protect them at all cost.”

The security team took the crown prince and his family to the Singapore Embassy because it was closer than the Malaysian Embassy where they are preparing to fly back home.

Ismail Ibrahim acknowledged and paid tribute to those killed in the shooting. 

“May God bless their innocent souls,” he said.

Modified weapon

Torsak, the police chief, said the teen had modified a blank gun to fire bullets, adding investigators had not determined how he obtained it. Online sales of illegal weapons in Thailand are not uncommon, according to authorities.

The suspect played violent online shooting games, Torsak said. Videos circulating on social media allegedly showed the suspect practicing how to replace magazines in the gun before the shooting.

Thailand has experienced mass killings in recent years, including one less than a year ago.

On Oct. 6, 2022, an ex-police officer in northeastern Thailand stabbed and fatally shot dead at least two dozen pre-school children at a daycare center in Nong Bua Lam Phu province.  

In 2020, an active-duty soldier suffered a “psychotic break,” killing at least 29 people and injuring dozens of others at four locations in Nakhon Ratchasima province. He was gunned down after an hours-long standoff.

According to a 2020 study by the Geneva-based organization Small Arms Survey, Thailand has the highest number of firearms in civilian possession among ASEAN countries with more than 10 million firearms in civilian hands as of 2017 – about 15% of the population.


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