Thai army chief: Gunman wasn't treated fairly in land deal

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Assumption kindergarten's children offer flowers at the scene of a deadly mass shooting outside the Terminal 21 shopping mall in Korat, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. A soldier carried out the country's worst mass shooting in an hourslong siege at the shopping mall. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA – Thailand's army commander said Tuesday the soldier who killed 29 people in a shooting rampage had not been treated fairly in a land deal involving his commander and such arrangements would have to be halted.

The gunman killed his superior officer and the officer's mother-in-law, stole weapons and a vehicle and headed to a popular shopping mall in a northeastern city where he holed up for hours before security officers killed him.

Gen. Apirat Kongsompong said at a news conference at army headquarters in Bangkok that such arrangements would have to be halted.

“The perpetrator did not receive fair treatment from his superior and the relative," he said. "They were involved in a land purchase deal that had gone wrong. We will investigate further about who else is involved in the issue. “

Sgt. Maj. Jakrapanth Thomma started his rampage Saturday by killing Col. Anantarote Krasae, his commanding officer in the 22nd Ammunition Battalion, and the officer’s 63-year-old mother-in-law, a real estate dealer who marketed to local soldiers, at Anantarote's home.

The gunman then stole heavy weapons from an army camp and shot people at random from the stolen army vehicle en route to the Terminal 21 Korat mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima. He holed up in the airport-themed mall overnight before security forces cornered and killed him.

Apirat deflected criticism over how the army safeguards its weapons, describing the theft of arms as the criminal act of an individual.

He admitted to shortcomings in some military procedures, but said the gunman took advantage of his military rank to confuse guards and gain access to the weapons.