More information about the 14-year-old suspect of the Siam Paragon shooting in Bangkok has come out.
Two people were killed, while five were injured.
The suspect had been receiving psychological treatment.
However, he did not take his prescribed medication on the day of the shooting.
More About the 14YO Suspect
The Bangkok Post reported that the boy is a student at a private school in Bangkok and that his parents are professors.
According to national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, the teenager was brought to the police station for questioning in a confused state.
The suspect said that he had heard voices telling him to shoot people.
Notably, he surrendered without a struggle.
Pol Gen Torsak added that the suspect had been receiving treatment for mental health issues in the time leading up to the shooting.
However, he didn’t want to elaborate further as the suspect was a minor.
When Chada Taiset, the deputy interior minister currently leading a high-profile crackdown on influential figures, began questioning the suspect in front of cameras, Pol Gen Torsak cautioned that the suspect had certain rights as a minor.
For instance, the suspect had the right to be questioned in the presence of a counsellor.
The police added that the suspect had suffered a psychological breakdown in the days leading up to the shooting.
He reportedly neglected to take his prescribed medication on the day of the shooting.
Police Searched Suspect’s Room
According to the police, the suspect had modified a gun designed to fire blank rounds.
The Bangkok Post reported that many rounds of ammunition and an airgun target were found in the suspect’s room.
A search in his phone revealed videos of the 14-year-old practising using a firearm.
Pol Gen Torsak added that investigators were looking into the suspect’s background.
The investigators planned to speak to his friends, who were online gamers, about his mental state leading up to the shooting.
Specifically, the police will be investigating whether the suspect has had previous instances of exhibiting violence and aggression.
According to a court document seen by Reuters, a court turned down a police request to detain the suspect at a mental health facility.
He was ordered into juvenile detention instead.
The suspect faces five charges, including illegal possession of a firearm, the unlawful carrying of a gun in public, and illegal discharge of a firearm in public.
You can read everything you need to know about the incident here.
The shooting occurred on 3 October.
The suspect entered Siam Paragon shopping mall via BTS Link 2 at 3.35 pm.
Security footage shows the suspect carrying a shoulder bag and entering a restroom five minutes later.
At 4.10 pm, gunshots were heard from inside the restroom.
The ordeal lasted for 90 minutes.
Videos circulating on social media depicted the frenzy of the shooting site, with hundreds of shoppers seen running away from the mall.
The police finally cornered the suspect inside a furniture store on the third floor.
The suspect then surrendered willingly.
A Chinese tourist and a Myanmar national were killed.
Three injured people were sent to King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.
One woman was shot in the head and was sent to the hospital in critical condition.
The other two people sent to the hospital were stable.
Another 28-year-old woman from Laos was taken to Bangkok Christian Hospital.
A bullet struck her armpit and entered her shoulder.
She was reported to be in critical condition.
A Thai woman who was wounded in the left shoulder was taken to Police General Hospital.
Aftermath: Questioning Thailand’s Gun Control Laws
A day after the shooting, flowers were left in front of the mall as it reopened for business.
Workers were seen replacing the shattered glass of a Louis Vuitton store.
The shooting came three days after the first anniversary of Thailand’s worst gun-related massacre.
In 2022, a former policeman killed 35 people, including 22 pre-schoolers, in an hours-long gun and knife attack.
He then shot himself dead.
Mass shootings are uncommon in Thailand.
However, gun violence and ownership are common.
Those who want to buy guns in Thailand must undergo a background check and provide a reason for owning a firearm.
While there are restrictions on the number of guns and ammunition a civilian can buy, government employees have no limits.
Furthermore, gun permits are available for life, unlike in many other countries whose permits have expiry dates.
Firearms can also be modified and obtained illegally.
According to gunpolicy.org, which tracks weapons in different countries, only 6 million privately owned guns in Thailand are registered.
However, Thailand has around 7.2 million privately owned guns.
Paul Quaglia, the Bangkok-based chief executive officer at PQA Associates, a risk assessment firm, called Thailand’s gun regulation “non-existent”.
According to the New York Times, he said that there isn’t a “systemic effort” in Thailand to register guns.
He added, “The problem in Thailand is that the country is awash in guns. They’re freely available and easily obtained, both licitly and illicitly.”
Referencing that the suspect’s gun was modified, Pol Gen Torsak said the “loophole in the law” needed to be addressed.
For context, the gun the teenager used was meant to shoot blanks.
Thus, it did not need any permits.
The police chief has called for the immediate arrest of illegal online weapon sellers.
Furthermore, he wants “blank guns” to be classified as weapons and for owners to receive the same amount of scrutiny.
Speaking to reporters at a technology event at the mall, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that access to guns, including modified ones, was an issue that the government would address with the police.
He said, “They can buy them online. Therefore, we need to be more restrictive in young people’s access to these dangerous things.
“We will work through the policy process by controlling guns and making them harder to access.”
The recent shooting followed Srettha’s government’s current attempts to boost the economy by encouraging more tourist arrivals.
One new measure includes offering visa-free entry to Chinese citizens, a key market for Thailand.
China’s embassy in Bangkok said that the prime minister had called its ambassador and pledged to “strengthen public safety management to offer a reliable and safe environment for Chinese people travelling to Thailand”.
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