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Armed school-invasion copycat arrested

Police arrest a 34-year-old man, identified only as Theerapong, in front of a school in Ron Phibun district of Nakhon Si Thammarat on Friday just before he entered it with a pistol to get his child.

Police on Friday arrested a man high on meth, carrying a pistol and rifle, trying to get into a school to take a child away from his wife, a day after the childcare centre massacre in the Northeast.

The 34-year-old man, identified only as Theerapong, was apprehended in front of a school in Moo 1 village of tambon Khuan Phang in Ron Phibun district of this southern province at about 10am, said Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau.

He was stopped just before entering the school with a gun with an intention to abduct his seven-year-old child, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said.

Police had been notified a few minutes earlier about the man’s appearance at the school. Crime Suppression Division police who were conducting a volunteer activity nearby rushed to the scene, he said.

Officers spotted a suspicious pickup truck in front of the school and parked their car on the right side of the truck. While police were getting out of the car, the man reversed and struck another police car that was blocking the rear of the truck.

The man then drove the truck forward and hit the first car before stopping. He then got out of his truck and drew a pistol from his waist. Policemen managed to swiftly charge and arrest him.

When officers searched the man they found 17 speed pills, a 9mm pistol and 10 bullets, a rifle and its 55 .22 bullets.

The man’s friend, identified only as Chavalit, 33, was in the front passenger seat of the pickup truck.

Mr Theerapong told police that he had had a dispute earlier with his wife. Out of tension, he asked his friend to accompany him to the school to pick up his child. They had taken two speed pills each, he said.

“It’s a copycat of the previous incident. The tragedy just happened yesterday,” Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said, referring to the massacre at a childcare centre in Nong Bua Lam Phu province on Thursday.

Other parents were shocked by the incident in Nakhon Si Thammarat and rushed to the school to pick up their children.

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