Time to Remember 1991 Massacre at Thai Buddhist Temple

August 9, 2006

Author: Angela Cara Pancrazio

Source: The Arizona Republic


It's August again. And when the month arrives at the Thai Buddhist temple in the West Valley, it is time to remember the tragedy. It is time to gather near the concrete life-size bust of Pairuch Kanthong that tops the stone memorial holding his ashes and those of the slain monks.

Kanthong, a Thai Buddhist monk, was busy building a temple when, in August 1991, two teenagers massacred him along with five monks and three other people at Wat Promkunaram, a Buddhist temple in Waddell.

On Thursday, it will be 15 years since Arizona's worst mass murder. Instead of abandoning the temple, the new abbot, Winai Booncham, six monks and the Thai community have worked hard over the years continuing to build on Kanthong's dreams.

Booncham arrived a day after the slayings. He helped clean blood from the carpet where his friend died.

After the tragedy, monks were too scared to stay there. Except for Booncham.

In spite of his fears, Booncham left his Thai Buddhist temple in southern California and moved into the Arizona temple.

Booncham and Kanthong had known each other in Thailand. The two monks had come to America at the same time and kept in touch.