Irritated by noises from a nearby primary school every morning, a man in Thailand fired 18 shots at the school from a nearby building on Sunday afternoon, sending students and teachers scrambling for safety.
The shooting comes just two months after a high-profile massacre in Thailand’s northeastern Nong Bua Lamphu province, where an ex-police officer opened fire at a preschool and stabbed dozens of sleeping children to death with a knife. The attacker, who turned the gun on himself after the rampage, killed 37 innocent people that day.
Much to the relief of parents in southern Thailand’s Ranong province this week, no one was injured in Sunday’s shooting. Most students were not in school that day, except some eight students who had gathered to practice for a contest, local media reported. Upon hearing the gunshots, they fled to another school building. A teacher said that he saw a man in a nearby building pointing a gun out of the window and at the school.
The gunman, identified in local media as Wutthiphong Chalermwuthanon, was arrested on Monday. When questioned at the local police station, the 43-year-old revealed that he was upset about the noises coming from the school every morning, which included chanting during morning assembly and playing the national anthem.
Pornsin Srisuphan, the school’s deputy director, said they had tried to lower the volume by installing two layers of soundproofing, but that was not enough to appease Wutthiphong.
Photos shared on Facebook by a local rescue team show bullets discovered on the school grounds when the group arrived at the scene.
When police showed up at Wutthiphong's house on Monday night, they found that the gunman legally possessed a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. His 75-year-old father also owned two guns—one of which was used by Wutthiphong in the shooting. The guns have been seized by the police, who also revoked the pair’s firearm licenses.
Wutthiphong will be charged with attempted murder, said the police.
Thailand has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the region, with more than one in ten people legally owning firearms, in addition to a thriving underground gun market.
But the country’s gun control laws and gun culture have come under scrutiny after a recent string of mass shootings, including a soldier’s two-day live-streamed shooting spree in the northeastern city of Korat and October’s preschool massacre.