Thailand’s day care atrocity brings together grieving families and a country.

On Friday, smears of dried blood marred the hardwood floor of a classroom in northern Thailand, a day after the country’s bloodiest slaughter occurred in one of the most improbable settings.

Outside, grieving parents gathered in a makeshift shed on blue plastic chairs, nursing their grief and clutching to one other and their children’s blankets and bottles, any trace of life, while officials completed arrangements for a visit by the country’s top leaders.

Thailand Nursery Shooting: Weeping Families Gather Outside Thai Nursery  Ahead Of King's Visit

School bags stood uncollected on colored shelves at the Child Development Center Uthai Sawan, while images of youngsters grinned from the wall, pinned into place with pegs alongside cardboard cut-outs of ladybirds.

More than 20 young children, aged 2 to 5, were killed in this school on Thursday during nap time when a former police officer armed with a knife and a revolver pushed his way inside and slashed them in their sleep.

A red carpet had been stretched out at the center’s front door for the arrival of a flower wreath, a present from the King’s youngest daughter, Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya.

Later that day, the King and Queen paid a rare visit to the injured survivors and their families at Nong Bua Lam Phu Hospital, according to a source with intimate knowledge of the king’s itinerary.

Their visit came after that of the country’s prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, who had previously spoken with relatives at the government’s relief center, visited hospitalized victims, and lay flowers outside the day care.

Thailand is used to the underlying tensions that come with being controlled by military coup leaders, but violence of the kind saw on Thursday is unusual. The most recent mass killing in the Southeast Asian country occurred two years ago, when a former soldier went on a rampage at a military base before attacking people at a mall in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, often known as Korat, farther south.

The gunman in that case was believed to have exploded following a disagreement with another soldier over a land-selling commission charge. The motivation in this crime is unknown, but after frightening the childcare facility, Panya Kamrab, a 34-year-old former police officer, drove home and murdered his wife and kid before killing himself.

The overall number of fatalities was 36, including Panya’s wife and two-year-old stepson, who usually attended that day care center but was not present when the police arrived looking for him. The death of the youngster brings the total number of children slain to 24.

Narcotics may have played a factor – Panya had been in court that morning on drug possession charges, according to officials – but blood tests are being conducted to ascertain whether drugs were in his system at the time of the attack.

Details of the atrocity have been slow to surface, but testimonies so far describe a guy equipped to kill, who did not hesitate to assault innocent children and even shot dead a pregnant staff member who was a month away from giving birth. According to one staff member, Panya arrived to the facility at noon, when two other employees were eating lunch. They heard “fireworks” and witnessed two coworkers collapse on the floor. “He then drew another revolver from his waist… “I didn’t think he’d kill the kids,” they stated.

Families in mourning sat side by side outside the facility on Friday, waiting for updates on government assistance. They included the heartbroken mother of four-year-old Thawatchai Siphu, also known as Dan, who was significantly pregnant. Oy Yodkhao, Dan’s

This couple lost their four-year-old son in the massacre.

Now their joy is drowned in loss and disbelief that someone could murder innocent children.Pimpa Thana and Chalermsilp Kraosai, the parents of chatty twin boys, Weerapat and Worapon, who had yet to celebrate their fourth birthday, were also sitting in mute anguish – with two children, their family had been complete.