Bad news for the Tiger of Thalang
THALANG: Being the leader of a youth motorbike gang in Phuket is always dangerous. Occupational hazards include bullets and blades from members of rival gangs, police who will eventually make a charge stick, and carelessly-driven pickups that can quickly put an end to motorcycling mayhem. Despite the obvious risks, gang leader Kroekkriat Jantananon, from Baan Liphon in Thalang, would no doubt have been greatly surprised by the circumstances of his final undoing. At 27, Kroekkriat, who went by “Seua Liphon” or “Liphon Tiger”, was approaching retirement age as leader of his gang and decided to train a promising young man, “News”, to eventually take control of the group. News’s attempts to step into the shoes of leader of the gang, a Thai Rath reporter implied, led to him being charged with attempted murder early last year – a charge for which he was out on bail at the time of the events on New Year’s Day. Friends of Seua told reporters that the night started with the Liphon gang seeing in the new year at Patong Beach. After the countdown, the gang moved on to strut their stuff at Night Station disco on Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd. While dancing at the club, News accidentally trod on the toe of a member of a local Patong gang, sparking a fracas. Pushing and shoving ensued, and the Patong gang member asked if News wanted “to take it outside”. News immediately accepted the challenge and, determined to prove his bravery, asked his friend Flat to accompany him to his bike to fetch a 9mm pistol from under the seat. News and Flat then walked back to teach the local boys a lesson, but were unable to find them. Determined not to let the slight on his honor go unpunished, News instructed Flat to drive the bike on a hunt for the enemy while News rode pillion, pistol at the ready. Unbeknownst to the two hunters, Seua and the other gang members had followed them out of the club. News and Flat found their quarry in the area of The Royal Paradise Hotel and were about to attack when Sq Ldr Sen Sgt Maj Amnat Kaewkrajok from Kathu District Police Station happened to pass by; seeing what was going on, he stepped in to put a stop to it. In front of crowds of Thai and foreign tourists, a ruckus ensued. News was thrown to the ground, but he managed to pull out his pistol and fire a shot into the air, just as Seua and the rest of the gang arrived on the scene. News, mistaking the newcomers for more members of the opposing gang, opened fire, hitting Seua in the neck and stomach, killing him. Also hit in the salvo were: Seua’s 24-year-old sister Netanapha, who was hit in the right leg; two gang members, Suwan Ratanapontri and Narong Thongkhod, both 20, who were grazed on the right shin and hit in the right knee respectively; and Phanitha Angsuchonsin, 22, who was seriously hurt after being hit in the stomach. On seeing the carnage he had created, News instructed Flat to drive him away from the scene before he could be apprehended by police. A local Thai-language daily reported on January 3 that police had caught up with News at his house in Tambon Srisoonthorn the next day as he was packing his bags to leave Phuket. During questioning News allegedly admitted that he had accidentally shot dead his own gang leader and that the gun he used had belonged to the victim. The report made no mention of the fate of Flat.
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