BANGKOK: The teenage shooter who went on a fatal shooting spree in a Bangkok mall on Tuesday had practised at an army shooting range more than 20 times, Thai police disclosed on Friday.
Police Major-General Theeradej Thammasuthee, commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s investigation division, confirmed that the 14-year-old had practised at the Territorial Defence Shooting Range in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district.
“The suspect said during police questioning that on the day before the fatal attack, he had practised shooting more than 20 times,” the senior officer said.
The officer noted that the shooting range is for members only, and any user below 18 must be accompanied by an adult member.
On Tuesday afternoon, a 14-year-old boy armed with a modified blank gun fired shots at people in Siam Paragon mall, leaving two people dead and five others injured.
A video clip circulated on social media appears to show the teenager firing a round of shots at shooting targets in a place later identified as the Territorial Defence Shooting Range.
The Royal Thai Army, which runs the shooting range, found that the teenager was not a member, so it was possible he came with an adult member, a source said on Friday.
An examination of video recordings from the shooting range’s security cameras over the past 10 days did not find the shooting suspect, according to the source.
Staff of the shooting range were instructed to gather information about the suspect’s use of the facility, according to the source.
The army has provided information to police investigators working on the case, the source said.
According to its website, the shooting range is open daily from 10am to 6pm, with “no holidays”.
The Juvenile Detention Centre has sent the shooting suspect to the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute for psychiatric evaluation and treatment at the suggestion of a doctor, Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong said on Friday.
He declined to discuss the nature of the boy’s mental issues, saying that disclosing details of his health conditions was against the boy’s personal rights.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the teenager was sent to the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute on Thursday afternoon after the Juvenile Detention Centre concluded that a specialist’s evaluation of his mental health was needed as this was a serious criminal case.
The Central Juvenile and Family Court had on Wednesday ordered the young suspect to be detained at the Juvenile Detention Centre.
The court had dismissed a police request for the teen to be sent to the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute for evaluation and treatment on grounds that the investigators failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that the suspect was suffering from a mental illness. - THE NATION/ASIAN NEWS NETWORK