PHUKET: Police have arrested nine suspects, eight of whom are minors, for a drive-by revenge shooting that left two men injured in Phuket on October 3.
Watthana Suebsak, 18, was shot in the face and seriously injured, while Prasert Chanthip, 35, was also shot and wounded when a group of masked suspects rode by on motorbikes and opened fire (story here).
Police revealed today that the group of nine were led by a 17-year-old, who has since confessed to being the sole shooter on the night of the attack.
“The two groups of teens – from Baan Don and Baan Liporn – had a conflict on the last night of the Vegetarian Festival,” Phuket Provincial Police Commander Patchara Boonyasit told the Phuket Gazette.
Chatri Hirunwadee, 19, one of the nine, explained to police that the shooting was an act of revenge on the men from Baan Liporn.
After talking to witnesses and reviewing footage from CCTV near the scene of the crime, police were able to identify all suspects and obtain arrest warrants, Maj Gen Patchara said.
“We tracked down the 17-year-old leader of the gang at his house in Tambon Thepkrasattri this morning,” he explained.
“During our search of the premises, we found an illegal, handmade gun with one round of ammunition.”
According to Gen Patchara, police have seized the gun and three out of the four motorbikes used in the drive-by attack.
The nine suspects are now in police custody, he added.
“Police have charged the shooter with possession of an illegal firearm and unlicenced possession of a firearm. All nine suspects have been charged with attempted gang murder,” Gen Patchara confirmed.
One of the victims, Mr Prasert, was released from hospital and able to give a positive identification of the suspects.
The other victim, Mr Watthana, is still in the Intensive Care Unit of Vachira Phuket Hospital.
Gen Patchara told the Gazette today that he had spoken to Governor Nisit Jansomwong about installing more CCTV throughout Phuket in order to help swiftly identify criminals.
“This should be done as soon as possible. CCTV footage is very useful in our investigations. This cannot wait until next year’s budget,” Gen Patchara said.
“The safety of Phuket people cannot be put on hold.”
— Natthaphol Wittayarungrote