By Francis Tayor
A mother driving with her son, a teenager on a motorbike and a mother trying to protect her two-year-old child are among the victims of Thailand’s worst mass shooting.
As the country begins to mourn the 29 people who died in Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma’s killing spree in a shopping mall in Nakhon Ratchasima, details of some of his victims have started to emerge.
High school student Nachote Chotiklang was in the passenger seat as his mother drove past the gunman’s vehicle.
He said that Thomma “got out of the car and fired into the window. At that, I ducked down and didn’t do anything until I felt that car hit something. It hit a tree”.
His mother had died.
A 13-year-old boy, Rachanon Kanchanamethi, nicknamed ‘James Bond’, was one of the soldier’s first victims.
The middle school student was riding his motorbike home when Thomma, 32, who was angry over a disputed land deal involving his commanding officer, fired on him from his car on his way to the mall.
More from Thailand
Rachanon, the family’s only child, was one of the first victims.
On the first day of his son’s Buddhist funeral, his father, Nuttawut Kanchanamethi, sobbed as he said: “I don’t want to lose him like this. This is too sudden. We had plans for him, growing up.
“I want to continue taking care of him, but I no longer have that opportunity.”
Sirirat Kualraksa lost her sister, Papatchaya Kualraksa, her brother-in-law and her young nephew in the attack.
Papatchaya, 33, hid with her husband and their two-year-old son in a supermarket storage room and, in a Facebook call, told her sibling she was scared.
“Gunshots could be heard endlessly and loudly. But there was no sign” of a rescue, Sirirat said. Still, “both of us thought that she would be able to get out”.
They exchanged several Facebook messages before Papatchaya went quiet.
Sirirat, 43, later received photographs from a friend, an officer who went to the mall, of the body of her sister, arms wrapped around her two-year-old, and the boy’s father nearby.
Thomma’s massacre began with his commanding officer, Colonel Anantarote Krasae, before stealing guns from an army camp and heading to the mall, shooting wildly along the way at people inside and outside the building.
Video taken outside the mall showed people diving for cover as shots rang out. Many were killed outside the mall, some in cars and others while walking.
Another 58 people were wounded before, after an hours-long search, Thomma was eventually shot by police.