Jakrapanth Thomma has been identified by police as the Thai Army soldier who opened fire in a shopping mall in Thailand, originally killing at least 17 in an attack that he live-streamed to the internet. That number has risen to 20, and authorities fear it may increase.
As the Mirror initially reported, police said the masked suspect opened fire in the Terminal 21 mall in Korat, which is in northeastern Thailand. Police believe that Thomma barricaded himself inside the shopping center with hostages, and posted a number of graphic and taunting videos during the attack.
Many shoppers who were in the mall at the time of the attack took cover and were still hiding when police special forces prepared to storm the building, the report noted. It was not yet clear if police were treating the attack as an act of terrorism.
Authorities said the attack started when Thomma killed his commanding officer, then stole a gun and ammunition from a military camp. He then embarked on a violent rampage as he drove a military vehicle to the Terminal 21 shopping center where the attack continued.
Previously, Thomma posted a number of pictures on Facebook showing himself wielding a gun and showing off other firearms, the Mirror report noted. Thomma appeared to be enamored with Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right Norwegian mass shooter who became popular among white supremacists and far-right militants after his 2011 attack that left 71 people dead.
As the BBC reported, media in Thailand shared a video that appeared to show Thomma getting out of a Humvee-type vehicle in front of the shopping center and opening fire at people as they ran away. Media also showed fire inside the shopping center that witnesses said was caused by a gas canister that exploded when Thomma shot it.
Thomma himself shared a selfie video with the fire raging in the background. Other videos taken by shoppers showed the chaos inside the shopping center as many ran to safety. An apparent surveillance video also showed Thomma walking through the halls of the seemingly now-empty shopping center holding a long gun.
Active shooter murders 12 people in a Mall of #Thailand ????????
The suspect is a soldier identified as Jakrapanth Thomma who posted images of the assault on his social networkspic.twitter.com/mOSnqegwoW
— Oscar Contreras∴???????????????? (@oscarcontrera) February 8, 2020
Police asked people to stay away from the shopping center, and also called on people to donate blood to help those injured in the attack.
BBC shared an update that so far the police have cleared the ground floor and evacuated hundreds of people, but the location of the shooter and the number of hostages he has, if any, has not been confirmed.
Authorities are still not sure of the motive for the Thailand shopping center shooting, although the Mirror reported that “the suspect posted a number of rants in the hours leading up to the massacre,” including one about seeking “revenge.” Thomma’s Facebook page was taken down due to his gruesome updates.