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Fri, May 25, 2007 : Last updated 20:20 pm (Thai local time)



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Home > Headlines > The path to VIOLENCE





The path to VIOLENCE

Shades of Virginia Tech in Pathum Thani killing spree

There are some chilling similarities between Virginia Tech killer Cho Seung-hui, 23, and Kiartipong Meksawat, 21, who went on a shooting spree in Pathum Thani on Wednesday after being questioned by police.

The most striking is that both young men were loners who were fascinated by weapons and firearms.

Police found that Kiartipong had a collection of weapons that included several AK47 automatic rifles, ninja-style throwing stars and a samurai sword. They also found a number of violent computer games and information on firearms and explosives that had been downloaded from the Internet.

Living in the US, Cho's weapon collection was understandably more sophisticated and included a Walther P22 and Glock 9mm handguns, whereas Kiartipong's Kalashnikov is the weapon of choice of most insurgents around the world, including in Thailand's deep South.

Neither young man had received much warmth or comfort from their families. They were spiritual minded. They liked violent computer games. They did not like to socialise. Most notably, they showed icy cool during their killing sprees.

Cho followed the pattern of previous school shootings in the US, in which the perpetrators planned their attacks way in advance. Cho reportedly took more than a month, starting with buying his weapons. He also left behind a multimedia message to justify his actions and condemn his victims.

Cho was religious minded and a church-goer. In one of the video clips he left behind, he praises the Columbine perpetrators as "martyrs".

"You have vandalised my heart, raped my soul and tortured my conscience. You thought it was one more pathetic life you were extinguishing. Thanks to you, I die like Jesus Christ to inspire generations of the weak and defenceless people," he says.

Kiartipong, on the other hand, did not leave much to help authorities to look into his past or diagnose his mental state, or even to suggest he had prepared to one day go on a shooting spree.

But like Cho, he had a sister who has acknowledged that her brother was a misfit but never thought he would be capable of such violence.

The director-general of the Department of Mental Health, Dr ML Somchai Chakrapand, has said initial findings showed that Kiartipong was obsessed with violence. But then, the Chiang Rai native also liked to meditate.

According to Somchai, meditation is what allowed Kiartipong to suppress his angry side - making it difficult for the people around him to detect his violent side.

He said Kiartipong's broken home may have contributed to his unstable personality.

While it appears that Kiartipong was a very disturbed young man, it was not certain if he saw himself as a victim like Cho.

The US media quoted experts as saying that, based on his parting messages, Cho could have been suffering from a severe case of grandiosity and possibly either bipolar depression or schizophrenia.

Plays Cho had written for his English class at Virginia Tech showed that he was fascinated with death. In Kiartipong's case, there is physical evidence, including violent video games, weapons and gun magazines, to suggest he had a similar mindset.

Cho was briefly admitted to a mental health facility in 2005 on the advice of one of his professors. There were also concerns at the time that he was suicidal.

Kiartipong was a dropout. But in any case psychological profiles of students in Thailand's schools and universities, much less the assignments they worked on, are virtually non-existent.

For a young man with no experience of gun battles other than in video games, Kiartipong's gunfight with the police was methodical and calculated. Outgunned and outnumbered, Kiartipong met the inevitable fate after two hours of fierce shooting that ended in the deaths of four people, including himself.

If he was not gunned down, nobody knew whether he would have continued to kill.








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