Police in Thailand arrested a 14-year-old boy after a shooting at a luxury shopping mall in the capital Bangkok on Tuesday left at least two people dead and five others injured, causing terrified shoppers to flee the scene.
Local authorities held the suspect with a weapon, and are assessing the exact number of casualties, Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau said. The suspect, who is reported to have mental health issues, was taken to a nearby hospital after being interrogated by police, Thai Police General Torsak Sukvimol told reporters.
One of the deceased victims is a Chinese citizen and the other a Myanmar national, Sukvimol said. Thai citizens and foreigners were among the injured, according to the director of Bangkok Emergency Center, Dr. Yutthana Setthanan.
Bangkok Emergency Center revised an earlier death toll, which stated that three people were killed in the shooting. The director of Bangkok Emergency Center, Dr. Yutthana Setthanan, told reporters he was initially told the death toll was three but later clarified that only one person was killed. The death toll later rose to two, according to Sukvimol.
Several people described chaotic scenes of employees and shoppers trying to escape the mall as the attack took place on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Shir Yahav, 26, said the shooting happened “in just a few minutes,” the agency reported.
“We saw all the people run, run, run, we didn’t understand what was happening,” Yahav said. “We went with them and then we heard several shots, like six or seven shots. We blocked the door of the store.”
Susinee, 35, said she and about half a dozen other workers “just ran out” of a Japanese ramen restaurant, Reuters reported.
The suspect “surrendered himself” after the shooting and still had ammunition when he was apprehended, according to Sukvimol.
“Any of his personal issues, we can’t talk about that much since he’s still a youth,” the police chief said of the suspect, adding that officers have spoken to his parents.
“He has mental issues, and he is receiving treatment at Rajvithee Hospital,” he added.
The police general did not specify where the juvenile obtained the weapon.
Sukvimol commended mall security for effectively dealing with an active shooter. “When the shooting happened, there were a lot of people at the mall, it was rush hour and raining outside.”
Gun ownership in the Southeast Asian country is high compared with other countries in the region.
More than 10.3 million civilians held firearms in Thailand, or around 15 guns for every 100 people, 2017 data from the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS) said. About 6.2 million of those guns are legally registered, according to SAS.
Thailand tallies the second-highest gun homicides after the Philippines in Southeast Asia, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s 2019 Global Burden of Disease database.
But mass shootings in the country are rare. In October 2022, at least 36 people were killed in a gun and knife attack at a child care center in northeastern Thailand.
The massacre in Nong Bua Lamphu province was believed to be the country’s deadliest incident of its kind.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed his “deepest condolences” to the relatives of those died in the shooting.
“I would like to offer my support to the families of the deceased and all those who were injured as well,” the prime minister wrote on X, previously known as Twitter.