Thailand Massacre Leaves Dozens of Children Dead



The mother of a victim holds a milk bottle and blanket as she reacts while standing outside the nursery in Na Klang in Thailand’s northeastern Nong Bua Lam Phu province on October 7, 2022, the day after a former police officer killed at least 37 people in a mass shooting at the site. – Weeping, grief-stricken families gathered on October 7 outside a Thai nursery where an ex-policeman murdered nearly two dozen children in one of the kingdom’s worst mass killings. (Photo by Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)

Vince Kim

A former cop went on a shooting rampage in Thailand on October 6, killing 36 people, 23 of whom were children, before murdering his wife and child, and then taking his own life. 34 year-old Panya Kambrab was suspended as a member of the Thailand Royal Police after facing drug possession charges earlier this year. According to a local police chief, Kamrab went to find his 2-year old stepson at his nursery on Thursday, but was not at the nursery at the time of the murder. Realizing this, an outraged Kamrab began stabbing and firing at children and staff at the nursery center, getting into a room full of 24 kids and killing 23 of them. Eyewitness accounts point out that the former policeman slashed his way through the nursery, using mainly a knife even on the way home, taking out people who stood in his way. Once police surrounded his house, they discovered he had committed suicide.

The unprecedented nursery massacre is the second mass killing that has horrified Thailand in only a few years, prompting the government to find answers as to why this disaster unfolded and what could’ve been done to prevent it. Several factors may have been at play in the mass killing, one being the number of guns in Thailand. Despite its strict gun laws, Thailand has the highest gun ownership rate in southeast Asia, and since mass shootings have rarely happened over recent years, this issue has been largely overlooked. While the Thai government has aimed towards further tightening gun control, several rules haven’t been taken seriously, as illegal guns have become commonplace with almost 4 million out of 10 million privately-owned guns remaining unregistered. Additionally, the nursery shooting has shined new light on persisting drug issues. Following the attack, Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha declared a war on drugs centered around promoting rehabilitation and prevention, as new details about Kamrab’s drug addiction problems emerged.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at the cremation ceremonies to bid farewell to the children who died on a Tuesday evening, while those offering condolences sat praying. Before the cremation occurred, supporters took time to dress up the victims’ bodies as soldiers, officers, astronauts, and doctors. One volunteer rescue worker noticed, “The more we talked, we realized that these children also had dreams of becoming doctors, soldiers, astronauts, or police officers.” Had a gunman under the influence of drugs not taken out his rage on the adults and kids at a small nursery in a relatively safe province of Thailand, maybe these kids could have followed these dreams.