Arrest made after deadly mall shootout

Arrest made after deadly mall shootout

A police forensic team examined the scene of the Saturday night shootout that left one Indian dead and four other people wounded, including an Indian and a Lao national. (AP photo)
A police forensic team examined the scene of the Saturday night shootout that left one Indian dead and four other people wounded, including an Indian and a Lao national. (AP photo)

Police are preparing to make five more arrests after a suspect in the Sunday gunfight that killed an Indian tourist and injured four other people in the Pratunam area turned himself in on Tuesday.

The hunt for the gunmen is being pursued with all available resources after the shootout between two gangs saw groups of tourists caught in the crossfire.

The shooting of the Indian, and injuries to a compatriot, a Lao national and two Thais, near the Watergate Pavilion shopping mall on the night of Oct 7, have led to police holding daily briefings.

Acting deputy city police chief Khatcha Thatsat, who chaired the latest briefing, announced the progress so far.

"We've detained one suspect named Preecha Sakudomphaisan," Pol Maj Gen Khatcha told reporters, adding that there are "many" suspects on their wanted list.

Police will ask the court to issue warrants for the arrest of five more people, he said.

The officers are checking footage from four security cameras at the crime scene to gather more information about what happened.

Mr Preecha surrendered to Phaya Thai police the day after the deadly shooting and "confessed", Pol Maj Gen Khatcha said.

However, the acting deputy city police chief did not say Tuesday whether the 28-year-old had fired the AK-47 assault rifle used in the gunfight The police are investigating how the firearm was obtained by the gang.

Reportedly, Mr Preecha will be charged with premeditated murder as he was central to what transpired.

The man reportedly oversaw a snooker hall in the area and his quarrel with a rival gang led to the gunfight.

The investigators did not believe the shooting was linked to local influential figures. The motive for the gunfight is likely to have resulted from a personal conflict, Pol Maj Gen Khatcha said.

Mr Preecha had allegedly been threatened by the aides of Bamphen Phumphuang, 23, who did not believe Mr Preecha was looking after the snooker hall.

"That is believed to have led to the brawl and deadly gunfight," Pol Maj Gen Katcha said.

Their quarrel erupted in a car park near the shopping mall where foreign tourists were waiting to board a coach.

As they fired at each other, some bullets hit the five victims.

According to investigators who found shells from different weapons at the crime scene, an AK-47 was believed to have been used by at least one gunman.

The find prompted deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to order a new crackdown on illegal firearms.

Gen Prawit said Tuesday he did not believe the incident was the work of mafia gangs.

"The mafia has gone as we've eradicated a number of gangs," he said.

Meanwhile, permanent secretary for tourism and sports Pongpanu Svetarundra said the government will pay 1 million baht in compensation to the dead man's family and will pay for any expenses not covered by his insurance.

India is ranked sixth in terms of the number of visitors to Thailand each year.

Last year 1.4 million Indian tourists generated more than 62 billion baht in revenue, according to statistics from the Tourism and Sports Ministry.

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