Hundreds attended a candlelight vigil on Sunday in Thailand's Nakhon Ratchasima province, in memory of 29 people who were killed in a shootingwhich started on Saturday at a military barracks and ended the next day at a nearby mall.
Those present gathered at the statue of "Lady Mo" or Thao Suranari to console each other and pay tribute to those killed in the attack. Ya Mo is a historic heroine who unified and protected residents from invasion in the 1820s.
Among those present was Montagan Nukdai, 28, a waitress at a local restaurant, who was still shaken after she and others took shelter inside the building during the shooting and left safely.
"It could have easily been me," said Nukdai, choking. "I closed my eyes and thought about the people who lost their lives, especially the security guard at the mall. We used to say 'hello' to each other every morning. He was like family to me."
Nukdai said the normal Saturday night at Terminal 21 Korat shopping center panicked when he heard multiple shots while serving customers. She and other employees immediately ran to close the roll-up door and told guests to move quickly to the staff room.
As gunfire echoed through the mall, 20 people, including a small child, quietly took shelter in fear in the cramped space for nearly hours.
"I was nervous that the child was going to make a sound, but he didn't. He was quiet all the time." Nukdai said.
Meanwhile, everyone was comforting themselves and monitoring the shooting updates on their phones, she said. Inside the staff room, Nukdai documented on Twitter how the distressing scene unfolded.
Nukdai saw that Thailand's Crime Suppression Division had posted on Facebook, asking anyone who was stuck in the mall to contact them. She held out her hand and the authorities rescued the group that night.
"Security guards and soldiers came to rescue me," she said. "I could feel the seriousness of the situation in their faces, but they tried to console us, saying not to be afraid."
They were escorted in small groups by the fire escape. She was on her way to the evacuation area at a nearby gas station when she heard another round of gunfire coming from the mall. The crowd again panicked, but the authorities worked to calm everyone down and asked people to come home, she said.
Nukdai returned to the apartment, but said that his bed provided little comfort while his thoughts ran, wondering if the sniper was still alive. The next day, she learned that the sniper had been shot and killed by the authorities.
"We don't know why he did this. It looks like he went crazy," said Defense Ministry spokesman, Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantrawanit after the incident.
At the memorial, when dusk had settled and the monks began their prayers, Nukdai lit a candle and offered his condolences.