Thai mall gunman who killed 21 people, 'shot dead' after rampage
Nakhon Ratchasima, Feb 9: The Thai soldier Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma who killed at least 21 people and holed up in a mall overnight was 'shot dead' on Sunday morning, police said, ending a near-24-hour ordeal which has stunned the country.
Jakrapanth Thomma was killed "thirty minutes ago" (0200 GMT), chief of the Crime Suppression Division Jirabhob Bhuridej told AFP.
The health minister and police chief confirmed the gunman's death.
The attack in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima began late in the afternoon at an army barracks, police told AFP.
"Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma stole an army vehicle and drove into the town centre," police Lieutenant-Colonel Mongkol Kuptasiri.
Local media reported the gunman seized weapons from the army arsenal before embarking on a shooting spree in the centre of the town.
Video and photos circulating online relayed panicked scenes on a main road in the city - which is better known as Korat. People fled while at least one fire roared and what appeared to be the sound of automatic gunfire filled the air. The gunman also posted photos of himself and wrote several posts on his Facebook page including "should I surrender" and "no one can escape death".
In one Facebook video -- since deleted -- the assailant, wearing an army helmet, filmed from an open jeep saying, "I'm tired... I can't pull my finger anymore" and making a trigger symbol with his hand.
There were also photos of a man in a ski mask holding up a pistol.
"The gunman used a machine gun and shot innocent victims resulting in many injured and dead," spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen told AFP, adding that the standing toll was "more than 10."
The defence ministry said forces had sealed off the Terminal 21 shopping centre but have yet to capture the suspect.
Thailand has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world but mass shootings by soldiers targeting civilians are rare. Several shootings at courthouses late last year also renewed concern about gun violence in the Southeast Asia country.
In one high-profile case, a two-year-old boy was among three people killed in Thailand when a masked gunman robbed a jewellery shop last month.
Late last year two lawyers were shot dead by a clerk at a court in the east of the country during a hearing over a land dispute.
(with PTI inputs)