Three arrests have been made and a manhunt for the gunman and two accomplices is underway.
Following a night of drinking with patrons, 42-year-old Somwong “Lui” Saemin was allegedly beaten then shot in the shoulder and abdomen at his venue at about 7am.
Police arrested three suspects, all from Koh Yao District in Phang Nga, at a house in Chalong the same day.
They were identified as 19-year-old Anusak “Darid” Kungthong; Surasak “Sak” Hankiew, 21; and Weerasak “Dam” Longrak, 20.
All three tested positive for drugs, but insisted they were not involved in the attempted murder, police said.
They claimed to be sleeping in a car belonging to 39-year-old Wirat Sawatdee at the time of the shooting.
Wirat and two other men, 37-year-old Surachai “Bang Chai” Thongkongmai of Nakhon Sri Thammarat and another man identified only as “Bang Pu”, were in the karaoke bar at the time, the three said.
The suspects told police they accompanied Surachai and Wirat to the karaoke in Wirat’s car at about midnight. “Bang Pu” arrived separately by motorcycle.
The trio knew the purpose of the visit was to collect money, but they did not realize that Surachai was planning to shoot Somwong, they told police.
Police are seeking Wirat and Bang Pu for questioning and expect the court to issue an arrest warrant for the alleged gunman, Surachai, in the next few days.
Three bullet casings were collected at the scene of the shooting as evidence, but the owner of a nearby tailor shop told police he heard four shots fired.
Police plan to question Mr Somwong more thoroughly when he recovers from surgery, said Chalong Police Investigator Jarun Bangprasert.
“We found a gun and eight packages of ya ice [crystal methamphetamine] at Surachai’s house in Wichit,” Lt Col Jarun said.
Investigators think the attack was related to the drug trade, he added.
If the shooting was related to a drug deal gone wrong, it will be the second such case in Phuket in the past two weeks.
Last week two people were executed and their bodies thrown off a cliff near Nai Thon Beach.
A third man who survived the ordeal by “playing dead” managed to identify two of the assailants, who have since confessed to their roles in the slaughter.
At last report six other suspects remained at-large.
— Atchaa Khamlo
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