When the news first broke of a man shooting randomly at bystanders in a provincial shopping mall, it was greeted with disbelief by many in Thailand.
Thailand has more than its share of gun crime; gun ownership, and gunshot deaths, are among the highest in Asia. But no-one could remember a mass shooting like this before, every bit as bad as those in the United States.
By the time it was over, 30 people, including the gunman, were dead.
It began at a little after 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, at a house just outside the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, a sprawling commercial hub for Thailand’s north-eastern region.
A 32-year-old sergeant-major shot dead his commanding officer and the colonel’s mother-in-law. The three had been in business together buying and selling land, and the sergeant-major was apparently angry about not being paid for a deal he had brokered.
The gunman then went to the Surathampithak army base, a weapons and ammunition supply depot, where he worked. He shot at least one soldier, and was able to steal a truck, two assault rifles, a machine gun, and nearly 800 rounds of ammunition. He also had five guns of his own.
From there he went to a Buddhist temple, 15 minutes’ drive away, where people were marking Makha Bucha, an important Buddhist holiday. He opened fire and killed nine people there, and moved into the city centre, and the upscale, airport-themed Terminal 21…