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.
Video shows crowds of people running out of the busy Siam Paragon mall in central Bangkok where the fatal shooting took place.
The shooting took place around 4:20 p.m. local time (5:20 a.m. ET), Police Lt. General Samran Nualma, assistant commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, said at a press conference Wednesday.
The suspect, who is reported to have mental health issues, was apprehended just under an hour after the shooting started and 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.
Three Thai citizens, one Chinese national and one Laos national were injured in the shooting with “varying degrees of severity,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke said Wednesday.
“While the case is still under investigation and some details cannot be shared, please rest assured that the appropriate measures are being taken. The government’s priority is to ensure the safety of Thais and foreigners alike and that such tragedies are prevented in the future,” Kanchana said.
Bangkok Emergency Center revised an earlier death toll, which stated that three people were killed in the shooting. The director of the 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, 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.
During a joint press conference Wednesday, police said the suspect had modified a blank gun to fire live rounds.
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.
According to 2017 data from the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey (SAS), more than 10.3 million civilians hold firearms in Thailand, or around 15 guns for every 100 people. 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.