|PM extends sympathy to Thailand over mass shooting|
|Thai soldier kills at least 29 in 'unprecedented' mass shooting: PM|
|Thailand livestreamed shooting: Soldier kills at least 10 people|
|Thai army chief Apirat Kongsompong cries during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand, following last weekend's shooting rampage by a soldier at a mall in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa|
During a 90-minute press conference, Thai Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong said that the army will help compensate all the victims and their families.
"I, as army chief, would like to apologise and say how sorry I am for this incident which was caused by a staff of the army," Apirat said. "In the minute, the second that the perpetrator pulled the trigger and killed, in that minute he is a criminal and no longer a soldier."
The soldier, Sergeant Major Jakrapanth Thomma, was shot dead by security forces on Sunday after he had stormed the Terminal 21 shopping centre in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima the day before.
The 32-year-old had started the mass shooting early on Saturday, killing his commanding officer and the commander's mother-in-law over a business dispute.
He then drove to his army base, stole more weapons and ammunition and shot his way through a Buddhist temple before going to the Terminal 21 shopping centre, where he randomly fired at shoppers and held off police for more than 12 hours.
Apirat said the military would investigate the commanding officer who was killed, Colonel Anantharot Krasae, and the housing deal apparently brokered by Anantharot's mother-in-law Anong Mitchan.
He revealed that the commanding officer took advantage of the shooter in a land deal where a "promise was broken" over money matters, adding authorities will find out who else was involved in the scheme.
The Thai army chief promised a new line of communication so that army personnel could complain directly to the army chief.
"I guarantee between February and April there will be many - from generals to colonels - who will be jobless," Apirat said, also promising to throw out retired army officers from government housing.
"The army and I have already instructed this," he said, adding his mission before retirement in October was to make things fairer for army staff.
"I don’t think any Thai people would like this incident to happen again, so please don't blame the army or berate soldiers," Apirat said. "If you want to blame someone, you blame General Apirat Kongsompong. I accept all criticisms and opinions. You can blame me because I am the army chief"./.