AK-47 used in teen gun battle that killed tourist outside mall
Police are seeking arrest warrants for teenagers suspected of having been involved in a deadly gunfight that resulted in the death of one Indian tourist and left four people injured including two Thais at Bangkok's bustling Pratunam area late on Sunday night.
The victims were reportedly hit by stray bullets as they became caught in the crossfire when two suspected rival gangs engaged in a battle outside a pool hall after a dispute erupted inside. Police found casings from an AK-47 on the scene.
They are hunting the suspects amid concern over what kind of blow the news could do to the tourism industry after a ferry tragedy in Phuket in July killed over 40 Chinese and resulted in a spate of canceled bookings and lost revenue in the following months.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said yesterday the authorities have tightened their clampdown on the illegal possession of firearms and confiscated a number of weapons.
"Investigators have identified [up to three] suspects," Surachate Hakparn, acting chief of the Immigration Bureau, said yesterday.
Investigators visited their houses but found them to be empty, he said, adding officers along the Thai border had been ordered to keep an eye out for them.
"We're finding out what each of them did during the fight," said Pol Maj Gen Surachate.
Chaos erupted at around 8.30pm on Sunday near a car park attached to the Watergate Pavilion mall. Several foreign tourists were shot while waiting for a bus to pick them up after dining nearby, according to Phaya Thai police.
An Indian national, whose name was not given, died while four others -- another Indian, a Lao national and two Thais -- suffered injuries, said acting city police chief Sutthiphong Wongpin.
Pol Lt Gen Sutthiphong said the suspects are likely to face murder or attempted murder charges.
Police have not yet established the cause of the gun fight but said they believe it resulted from a brawl. According to Phaya Thai police, the suspects probably belong to rival groups.
Officers inspected the crime scene yesterday including a food shop and an alley linking to Soi Ruamchai.
They found 7.62mm and 9mm shells and others fired by a .38 special, leading them to believe an AK-47 had been used during the firefight.