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HomethailandThai teenager suspected of killing 2 in mall shooting used a modified...

Thai teenager suspected of killing 2 in mall shooting used a modified blank-firing handgun, police say

The teenage boy who allegedly shot two people dead and wounded five others inside a major shopping mall in the center of Thailand’s capital used a blank-firing handgun that had been modified to fire real bullets, police said Wednesday.

The suspect was taken into custody less than an hour after the first gunshots Tuesday afternoon at the Siam Paragon Mall, one of Bangkok’s biggest and most upscale shopping destinations.

Video on social media showed a long-haired teenage boy in the custody of police. Major Thai media reported he was 14 years old and a student at a Bangkok private school. Recently appointed Police Chief Torsak Sukvimol said the suspect had a record of being treated for mental illness and gave an incoherent account of his actions to police after his arrest, claiming that voices told him what to do.

A Malaysian prince who was at a nearby luxury hotel with his family when the shooting occurred recounted people screaming and running out of the mall. Tunku Ismail Idris said he and his security team created a human shield to protect his terrified family as they fled to the Singapore Embassy nearby amid the chaos.

“I still have images of me telling my kids ‘everything is going to be okay’ … and telling them to lay low while waiting for the car,” he wrote on Facebook. “This is my worst ever experience, protecting my children from a killer. Two people died. May God bless their innocent souls.”

Gun violence is not uncommon in Thailand, though mass shootings are rare. There are about 10 guns per 100 people in Thailand, including those owned illegally, compared with less than one per 100 in neighboring Malaysia, according to GunPolicy.org, a project at Australia’s University of Sydney.

Tuesday’s shootings occurred days before Thais are to mark the anniversary of the country’s biggest mass killing by an individual, a gun and knife attack at a rural day care center in a northeastern province that killed 36 people, most of them preschoolers, on Oct. 6, 2022.

In 2020, a disgruntled soldier opened fire in and around a mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima, killing 29 people and holding off security forces for about 16 hours before eventually being killed by them.

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