In a shocking incident that unfolded at the renowned Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, today, 3 October 2023, three individuals have tragically lost their lives, and four others sustained injuries following a shooting spree. The suspect behind the attack, a 14-year-old teenager, is now in police custody.
The Erawan Emergency Center Director, Yuthana Srettanan, confirmed the grim toll and injuries in a message to reporters, casting a somber shadow over the bustling shopping district.
Thai authorities acted swiftly, apprehending the 14-year-old suspected gunman, who eventually surrendered to the police. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin addressed reporters, stating, “The attacker was arrested. In fact, he surrendered… Police are clearing the scene. The situation is easing.”
As chaos unfolded, hundreds of shoppers and mall-goers were seen fleeing the Siam Paragon mall, a renowned shopping destination in the heart of Bangkok, popular with both tourists and locals. The mall was placed on lockdown in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
Live video feeds from the scene showed an eerily empty mall and its surroundings, a stark contrast to the usual vibrant evening atmosphere. The blaring sirens of emergency vehicles could be heard echoing through the area.
Word of the incident first surfaced on social media, as individuals shared videos depicting panicked crowds evacuating the mall. Eyewitnesses reported hearing gunshots.
One video shared by a user identified as @janejanejuta on Twitter depicted shoppers and mall employees taking cover, crouching down, and seeking refuge in what appeared to be a food court. Amid the chaos, a man could be heard reassuring the group.
Indra Suharjono, a media consultant, was present at the mall during the incident. She and her colleagues were instructed to take cover around 5 pm Bangkok time (6 pm Singapore time) while preparing for a fans’ meet-and-greet session with celebrities. Approximately 300 fans were gathered into an auditorium, where they secured the doors. Suharjono described the atmosphere as somber, with everyone anxiously monitoring online news for updates.
Authorities commenced evacuating fans from the hall at around 5:45 pm, instructing them to leave the building.
Meanwhile, at the Siam BTS Station, security shutters were drawn at approximately 5:25 pm. Officers directed people away from the Siam Paragon exit connected to the platform. Crowds gathered outside the station, awaiting clearance, with some managing to enter.
This harrowing incident comes just days before the one-year anniversary of one of the bloodiest days in recent Thai history, when an ex-police officer, armed with a knife and gun, attacked a nursery, resulting in the tragic deaths of 24 children and 12 adults.
Thailand, a nation with high rates of gun ownership, has a history marred by firearm incidents, both minor and catastrophic. In 2020, a former army officer embarked on a rampage in a shopping mall in Korat, claiming the lives of 29 individuals and injuring many more.
The investigation into the Siam Paragon mall shooting is ongoing, with authorities working diligently to determine the motive behind this devastating act of violence.
In these uncertain times, please prioritize your safety and the safety of those around you. Remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Follow the guidance of local authorities and emergency services. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families during this difficult time. Stay safe.