“Ko Noi’ gunman arrested at wedding

PHUKET: Almost a year after well-known Phuket businessman Preecha “Ko Noi” Kraitas was gunned down in Rawai, police in Petchaburi arrested the alleged gunman at a wedding reception on March 9.

Lt Col Somyot Chimplee of Petchaburi Provincial Police told the Gazette that Petchaburi native Samrerng Klaising was arrested as he stood in a wedding reception line waiting to wish good luck to the newlyweds.

The bride was an ex-girlfriend of the suspect, he said.

“We got a phone call from Crime Suppression Division informing us that Samreng was at the wedding, which was held behind Wat Khao Takrao in Petchaburi’s Baan Laem District.

“In undercover clothing, myself and other officers rushed to the wedding. There we found the suspect, who was looking nervous as he stood in the reception line.

“Pretending to be guests, we walked up to him. When he sensed something was wrong, he went for his gun, but it was too late, because another officer had locked up his arms from behind just in the nick of time.

“All this happened with over a hundred wedding guests watching,” said Col Somyot.

A search of the suspect found a 9mm pistol and 15 rounds of ammunition.

“We arrested him about 11:30 am and drove him down to Chalong Police Station that evening. I heard that his bail request to Phuket Provincial Court was denied,” said Col Somyot.

“However, we have already notified Phuket Police and Phuket Provincial Court asking for him to be transferred back to Baan Laem Police Station if he is granted bail in the future.

“He is still wanted by police there for carrying a gun in public,” he added.

Samrerng denied charges of conspiracy to murder and carrying an unlicensed firearm, though he did admit that he had driven to Phuket and was in the province at the time of the murder.

“He has never before been charged with murder, though he was arrested in Petchaburi about a year ago for carrying a firearm without having a license on his person.

“He was later released after he paid the fine,” Col Somyot added.

Samrerng was named by Phuket Police as the man who opened fire on K. Preecha as he was driving his Jeep Cherokee along Wiset Rd with his wife and nine-year-old son.

K. Preecha, who owned Fisherman’s Way housing estate and Phuket Shooting Range in Rawai, was hit twice in the head with 9mm bullets and later died in hospital.

His wife and son survived the attack.

Two other suspects, Pol Capt Wanchana Polpalangkul and Pol Sgt Pongsak Kosiratanapibal, both formerly attached to the Phuket’s elite Special Operations Unit, were suspended from duty because of their alleged involvement in the murder and were released on bail pending trial.

Wanchana is accused of organizing the killing, while Pongsak is accused of identifying K. Preecha for Samrerng.

A fourth man, alleged to be Samrerng’s driver, remains at large.

Phuket News
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