In a fourth floor toilet of the Terminal 21, mall shoppers jammed cubicle doors against the doorway to stay out a Thai soldier on a shooting spree, tracing his movements through fragments of CCTV passed on by friends on the surface .
Barricaded within the women’s toilet with a couple of dozen others, Chanathip Somsakul, a 33-year-old teacher , and his wife poured through social media and made frantic calls to friends and family — cops , mall workers, nurses.
Their daughter Chopin sat watchfully on a ledge, a three-year-old bystander to a mass killing without precedent in Thailand.
Nakhon Ratchasima, a mid-size Thai city entwined like much of the northeastern Isaan region by tight family connections and social media networks, quickly began to rally to its own trapped inside.
“A friend who works at the mall was lecture a man within the CCTV room … he gave us updates on the situation of the gunman,” Chanathip told AFP on Sunday.
Thai soldier kills quite a dozen in shooting rampage
A Thai soldier killed quite a dozen people during a shooting rampage on Saturday within the city of Nakhon Ratchasima within the north east of Thailand.
Those details shared over messaging apps may have saved the lives of Chanathip, his family and therefore the 20-30 others inside.
But within the swirl of competing information, dread gripped those hidden inside cupboards, storerooms and toilets across the mega-mall.
“Everyone was terrified and lost. There was such a lot information going around, people weren’t sure what to believe,” Chanathip added.
For hours a killer stalked the concourses, the glass fronted windows of the multi-level mall spidered by bullet holes.
A soldier with an unknown grudge, the gunman had already slain several people on his way into the plaza — the most important within the city and packed on the primary day of an extended weekend.
Sergeant-Major Jakrapanth Thomma swaggered through the mall, a machine gun slung over his shoulder, helmet on and in combat gear fully view of CCTV cameras.
By the top of his spree a minimum of 27 people would be dead — himself included. more are wounded, several critically.
Fear snapped through Chanathip’s hideout when someone banged on the rest room door.
“I thought it might be the gunman. a woman asked ‘who is it?’ but there was no answer. She wanted to open the door but we all convinced her to not .”
Chanathip had just finished teaching a lesson and — like many others — was eating within the mall together with his family when gunfire erupted.
His family took refuge within the women’s toilet. Some men pulled the rest room doors off and wedged them against the doorway .
At 9pm on Saturday they received word from police that they might leave, which they did — in an orderly fashion initially , along side dozens of others.
But gunshots rang out as they reached a parking lot , sparking a wild sprint for survival.
Inside, many others remained trapped, cowering in gym toilets, under restaurant tables and future rooms and hoovering up information on the whereabouts of the gunman.
From inside the stockroom of H&M, Aldrin Baliquing, a Filipino teacher in his 40s, meditated to remain calm.
“I was so scared because the shop where we were trapped was just above the establishment where the gunman held his hostages,” he said, pertaining to unconfirmed reports the rogue soldier had taken human shields.
As police began to clear bullet-riddled cars and rust-red blood stains on the road that had dried within the Thai heat, survivors tried to form sense of an evening of terror.
“I’m still in shock but coping,” Aldrin said.