Terror in Thailand

A memorial is built at the scene of the attack, honoring the lives that were lost.


A memorial is built at the scene of the attack, honoring the lives that were lost.

Lana Jepsen

On Thursday, October 6, in Uthai Suwan, Thailand, a child’s daycare center fell victim to a brutal attack by former police officer Panya Kamrab, resulting in one of the world’s largest child death tolls by a single killer in recent history.

According to the New York Times, 36 people were killed during this horrific event, 24 of them children, ages ranging from 2-5 years old, as well as a teacher who was 8 months pregnant.

Panya Kamrab, armed with a knife, a shotgun, and a pistol, forced his way into the daycare around 12:30 p.m., killing multiple teachers upon entry, then making his way into the classroom, attacking the children with a knife as they slept (CNN).

In a police report published by Reuter’s, Panya also allegedly murdered mulitple civilizians who crossed his path on his way back to own his home. The New York Times reports that he then returned to his own home, where he shot his wife, his two-year-old stepson, and himself, all of whom were later identified by the police.

By the time police had recovered the three bodys from Panya’s Kamrab’s home, the total death count, according to Time, was 38, 24 of them below the age of 5.

As stated by Time, Police Maj. General Paisal Luesombiin reported that Panya had been discharged from the police force last year for alleged drug abuse. According to Gen. Damrongsak, the national police chief, the perpetrator had attended a hearing over the drug charges on Thursday morning, and was expected to be sentenced that Friday. A forensic examination conducted by Udon Hospital revealed that Panya hadn’t used drugs in the 72 hours before the massacre, but was believed to have had a long-term drug problem (CNN).

Although there is a no clear motive, in another report by CNN, national police chief Gen. Damrongsak also disclosed that authorities believed Panya feared his wife would leave him, and that she reported having a fight with him, and even calling his mother for help. Headteacher Nanticha also told authorities that Panya’s step-son attended the center, but hadn’t been there in over a month (BBC).

This event has been a point of discussion amongst many all around the world, from government officials to students themselves. Emma Ufackar, a freshman at Ramapo, described her thoughts and feelings upon learning about this attack. She says, “I feel for the parents and families of these poor kids. I wish something would be done to prevent these awful events from taking place.”

This heartbreaking nursery attack left many with questions about what gun laws are like in Thailand, and how often tragedies like this occur. According to BBC, mass shootings in Thailand are rare, although gun ownership rates are relatively high. However, gun laws are strict, and possession of an illegal firearm, which isn’t uncommon, carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Parallels between this heartbreaking event and recent shootings seen in the United States are apparent. As said in an article by CNN, Gregory Raymond, from Australian National University noticed that “These are young men. They appear to have become alienated in some way. And they had access to weapons” (CNN).

When asked about what connections can be seen between this recent shooting and the many shootings seen across the U.S., Mr. Verdon, Honors and AP history teacher at Ramapo, responded that “In the past few years, the United States has been confronted with countless episodes of violence perpetrated by gunmen. I vividly remember watching news coverage of the Sandy Hook Massacre in 2012 and thinking that the scenes were among the most awful the country would ever need to grapple with…”

Mr. Verdon explains that he felt the same way when reading about the murders in Thailand. He says, “What unfolded was deeply disturbing and saddening. One can only hope that government intervention and new legislative policies can help curb the violence and make countries like the United States safer.”