Malaysian prince caught up in Bangkok mall shooting forced to shelter at Singapore embassy

The crown prince of Malaysia’s Johor state was forced to take shelter at the Singapore embassy in Thailand during a mass shooting at a luxury shopping mall in the centre of Bangkok.

A 14-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly killing two people in a shooting spree at the Siam Paragon shopping mall on Tuesday evening. He was charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder and illegal firearms possession, among other offences, police said on Wednesday.

Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said he and his family were sitting in a hotel lobby near the mall when the gunfire erupted, prompting people to run for cover.

He said his family along with the security team immediately ran to the hotel's basement for safety. "People were shouting and running into the hotel from the mall when the shooter started firing," the prince wrote on Facebook.

The prince recalled telling his four children “everything is going to be OK” while they waited for the car. “My security team and I stood in front of my family, creating a human shield to protect them at all cost,” he said.

After their transportation arrived, Prince Ismail instructed the driver to get them to the Malaysian embassy but was told the Singapore embassy was nearby.

“Now we’re here safe in the embassy,” the prince said, adding that he also called Malaysian prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and defence minister Mohamad Hasan to inform them of the situation.

He described the incident to be "the worst experience" he'd ever gone through. "Protecting the lives of my children from a killer. Two people died. May God bless their innocent souls," he added.

"Thanks to my security team and our friends from Singapore and Malaysia. I will forever be grateful to all of you."

The victims have been identified as visitors – one from China and the other from Myanmar – the police said, adding five more people were wounded in the shooting.

The suspected shooter used a mock handgun that had been modified to fire real bullets, according to the officials.

People running out of Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok (Courtesy of X user @D.weii_/AFP)
People running out of Siam Paragon shopping centre in Bangkok (Courtesy of X user @D.weii_/AFP)

Video uploaded to social media showed a long-haired teenage boy in the custody of police. Police chief Torsak Sukvimol confirmed that the suspect was a minor with a record of being treated for mental illness.

Assistant national police chief Samran Nualma said the weapon used was “a plastic gun and adapted to use with real bullets".

Mr Samran said the authorities were looking into the regulation of such mock weapons, which are reportedly popular among military buffs in Thailand and can be freely purchased.

An armed police officer speaks on a mobile phone as he leaves the Siam Paragon shopping mall (EPA)
An armed police officer speaks on a mobile phone as he leaves the Siam Paragon shopping mall (EPA)

Sudawan Wangsuppakitkosol, the minister of Tourism and Sports, confirmed that five people were hospitalised – one from China, one from Laos and three Thais – and that several were in critical condition.

“We need to rebuild confidence. We will discuss with the National Police putting safety measures in malls and communities to prevent such incidents," she said.

The incident took place days before Thais were planning to mark the one-year anniversary on 6 October of a grisly gun and knife attack at a rural daycare centre that killed 36 people, most of them nursery school children.

Gun violence is relatively common in Thailand, but mass shootings are rare.

An ex-police officer killed 22 children in a nursery last year during a gun-and-knife rampage, while in 2020 a soldier shot and killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a rampage that spanned four locations in and around the northeastern Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima.