NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand (Reuters) - Songyost Suwanachim placed flowers on the sidewalk outside the Terminal 21 shopping centre in Thailand on Monday and murmured a prayer for the 29 victims of a rogue soldier who went on the rampage at the weekend.
Songyost, a regular visitor to the mall, says he could have been one of those killed in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima, had he been a little ahead of schedule on Saturday.
He was across the street shopping at Big C grocery store when he heard the shooting. What followed was a 15-hour siege that ended with the attacker shot dead by security forces on Sunday.
A day later, 40-year-old Songyost is still shaken.
“I feel depressed and scared. I can still hear the sound of gunshots in my head and I can’t sleep at night,” he said.
Songyost filmed people hiding inside Big C and running out to the car park after gunshots were fired.
“When I arrived at Big C shopping mall people were in a panic, so I tried to figure out what happened by running to the side of the mall,” he said.
“People were running out from Big C because they thought the gunman was in there. That was the moment I realised this was not a small incident anymore.”
Many of those killed were in the mall, the last out of four locations in the shooting spree. The soldier, angry over a property deal gone sour, also went to a private home, his military base and a Buddhist temple.
He eventually holed up overnight in the basement of the mall before being killed himself by security forces.
“I saw smoke coming from the back of Terminal 21. Then police told people to stay inside the mall because they don’t want people to get caught in the crossfire,” Songyost said.
Songyost often visits the shopping centre after his grocery shopping as part of his weekend routine.
“If I left half an hour or an hour earlier I would probably be stuck inside the mall because I always like to come here,” he said.
Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Alison Williams