Ya bah addict gunned down after 4-hour standoff

PHUKET CITY: A four-hour standoff between police and a drug-crazed pork vendor ended violently yesterday, with a Phuket City policeman sustaining two bullet wounds before returning fire and hitting the gunman three times.

After being felled, the man tried to take his own life by shooting himself in the head – but his gun failed to fire.

Phuket City Police Inspector Lt Col Umpolwat Sangrueng told the Gazette that the drama started about 5 am, when Khamlah Thaninkunlaphat, wife of 39-year-old Chayakorn “Aod” Thaninkunlaphat, arrived at Phuket City Police Station to report that her husband was in a psychotic state, the result of his latest round ya bah (methamphetamine) abuse after years of addiction.

K. Khamlah told police that she had hidden her husband’s 9-mm pistol from him the day before out of fear he would shoot somebody. The loss of the weapon only aggravated him, however, inciting him to take even more of the drug, Col Umpolwat quoted the woman as saying.

As she was explaining the situation to police, K. Khamlah received a call on her mobile phone from a relative, who said that her husband had found the weapon and was running amok with it in their neighborhood on Soi Po Kui, off Mae Luan Rd.

Returning home, she found that Chayakorn had burned the inside of his pickup truck, which was still smoldering on a soi nearby. In front of the house was Chayakorn, sitting on a motorbike and holding his gun.

Demanding that everyone accompany him, Chayakorn said he was going to visit the grave of his father and paternal grandfather at the Chinese cemetery behind Surakul Stadium, not far from their home.

As Chayakorn stood by his father’s grave near the road, police arrived. Seeing them, Chayakorn set fire to some high grass before fleeing to an uphill part of the cemetery some 200 meters from the road, firing warning shots and threatening to shoot anyone who approached.

His wife, daughter and a relative were later given a megaphone and pleaded with Chayakorn to give himself up, but he probably had trouble hearing them because he is deaf in one ear, Col Umpolwat said.

Police dressed one of Chayakorn’s relatives in a motorcycle helmet and bullet-proof vest to deliver to the now shirtless Chayakorn a sedative-laced soft drink, which he refused to drink.

About 9:45 am, one of Chayakorn’s three daughters called him by mobile phone and asked him to come down.

He agreed. After firing two warning shots, Chayakorn began his descent, but on his way down he came across Phuket City Police Crime Suppression Inspector Maj Pongnarin Suthin, who was lying in a thicket with one of Chayakorn’s relatives.

Chayakorn fired twice, hitting Maj Pongnarin in the shin and calf before the officer returned fire, hitting Chayakorn twice in the stomach and once in the back, causing him to collapse to the ground.

Chayakorn attempted to shoot himself in the head, but when he pulled the trigger the gun did not fire, Col Umpolwat said.

Chayakorn was rushed to Bangkok Hospital Phuket and Maj Pongsirin to Vachira Phuket Hospital. Both men are now listed as in stable condition, Col Umpolwat said.

After the shootout, Chayakorn’s wife told police her husband had been a ya bah addict for about five years. He once received treatment for his condition at a temple in Nakhon Sri Thammarat, but continued using the drug after his release.

Col Umpolwat said that Chayakorn had yet to be charged with any crime and will remain under police guard while in hospital.

Police are now investigating whether his gun was registered, he added.

Phuket News
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