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Thai teenager charged with murder over Bangkok mall shooting

BANGKOK: Thai authorities charged a 14-year-old boy with premeditated murder and illegal possession of a firearm on Wednesday (Oct 4) after a shooting spree at a Bangkok mall using what police said was a modified pistol intended to fire blanks.

Two people were killed and five wounded in the shooting at Siam Paragon shopping centre on Tuesday, the latest gun violence to shock Thailand in the past three years. 

The suspect had suffered a psychological breakdown in the run-up to the shooting, police said. But a court turned down a police request to detain the teenager at a mental health facility and ordered him into juvenile detention instead, according to a court document seen by Reuters. 

He faces five charges including illegal possession of a firearm, the illegal carrying of a firearm in public and illegal discharge of a firearm in public, Major General Nakarin Sukhontawit told Reuters.

The shooting spree erupted late on Tuesday afternoon at the upmarket mall in Bangkok’s bustling commercial heart, sending hundreds of panicked shoppers racing to the exits, some screaming as gunshots rang out. 

A Chinese and Myanmar national were killed. 

The suspect surrendered after police cornered him in a designer furniture shop. 

Related:

Suspected Thai mall shooter suffered breakdown, used modified pistol: Police

'Everybody was screaming': Fear, chaos at Bangkok's Siam Paragon mall as gunman opened fire

THAI PM VOWS ACTION

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Wednesday vowed “preventive measures” after the shooting raised fresh questions about gun control in the country. 

He joined a minute’s silence at the mall before offering the government’s condolences to the families of the two female victims.

“I am confident Siam Paragon and government officials did their best to minimise the casualties and damage,” he said.

“Let this be the only time this happens. My government insists we will give priority to preventive measures.”

The prime minister told reporters that access to guns, including ones that can be modified, was something his government would address with police.

“They can buy from online, therefore we need to be more restrictive in young people’s access to these dangerous things,” Srettha said.

“We will work through the policy process by controlling guns and making them harder to access.”

As shoppers returned to the mall, flowers were left in front of the building while workers were seen replacing the shattered facade of a Louis Vuitton store.

AFP reporters saw that security was stepped up in some places, with bags being searched – but not on all entrances to the sprawling mall.

Mass shootings are rare in Thailand but gun violence and gun ownership are common. Ownership rules are strict, but firearms can be modified and obtained illegally, many smuggled from abroad.

Police said the 14-year-old suspect had adapted a widely sold gun meant to fire blanks.

National police chief Torsak Sukvimol said the boy had been receiving psychological treatment and had not taken his prescribed medication.

“We will have to investigate the suspect regarding whether he had violent and aggressive conduct before,” said Torsak, who met the boy soon after the shooting.

“Initially I spoke to him to calm him down … he appeared to hear someone speaking to him, he was hearing things, a noise he said told him to shoot,” he told reporters.

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