A former police officer has allegedly terrorized a day care center in Thailand, killing at least 37 people, including himself.
According to reports, former Sergeant Panya Kamrap, 34, entered the the Child Development Center in Nong Bua Lamphu province around noon, perhaps searching for his 2-year-old stepson, who was often placed in care there, but who was not there that day. However, rather than leaving, Kamrap immediately began attacking teachers and children, witnesses said.
"I suddenly heard the sound, just sounded like firecrackers. So I looked back [and] the two staffs just collapsed on the floor," recalled one unidentified employee.
"Then he pulled another gun from his waist," the person added. "…I didn’t expect he would also kill the kids."
But, according to reports, that's exactly what he did. Police say that he then shot and stabbed nearly two dozen napping children, most of them age 3 and younger.
Kamrap opened "fire while the kids were sleeping," claimed Maj. Gen. Jirapob Puridet of the Thai Central Investigation Bureau. Every child in that room except one died in the attack.
Witnesses claimed that Kamrap did not say anything before or during the ambush.
After he left the Child Development Center, police say he returned to his home, where he then murdered his wife and stepson before turning a gun on himself. In all, police estimate that 37 people have died in the attack, 24 of whom were children. One of the care workers at the facility who died was a woman who was eight months pregnant. Most of the deaths were the result of "stabbing wounds," police said. The suspect's wife and stepson have been included in the death toll, but it is unclear whether Kamrap has as well.
Kamrap was a former policeman who was dismissed from his duties last year under suspicion that he was selling narcotics. Kamrap had been charged with selling narcotics and appeared in court earlier Thursday morning. The purpose of the court hearing and what happened during it are both unclear.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who called the deadly incident "shocking," is expected to visit the area on Friday to express his condolences and to assist the devastated community. CNN has described the province, located about 335 miles northeast of Bangkok, as "a largely peaceful and quiet area" where mass murders are "rare."