Manhunt for Pattaya fugitive trio ends in dramatic shooting

Manhunt for Pattaya fugitive trio ends in dramatic shooting

Helmus: Shot self as police closed in
Helmus: Shot self as police closed in

The manhunt for three fugitives who staged a dramatic escape from the Criminal Court in Pattaya on Monday ended yesterday, after one of them surrendered and another was critically injured after shooting himself.

At 1pm, the police located two escaped prisoners, Sirinapa Wisetrit, and her boyfriend, Bart Allen Helmus, an American national, in Sa Kaeo's Watthana Nakhon district.

Police traced the pair -- who fled the court with another prisoner, Noi Nilthes -- to a deserted house in Ban Khao Chan, where they found discarded instant noodle wrappings and leftover bread, which led investigators to believe they had a meal there.

Mr Noi's older sister then contacted the police to say her brother wanted to surrender, as the team closed in on the suspects.

Mr Noi later surrendered in a nearby sugar cane plantation. He was detained along with two women -- one of whom is believed to be his girlfriend.

About a kilometre from where Mr Noi surrendered, police came across Mr Helmus and Ms Sirinapa. Mr Helmus tried to keep police at bay by holding Ms Sirinapa -- who is three months pregnant -- at gunpoint.

He also opened fire on approaching police officers. Cornered, Mr Helmus shot his wife once, but the bullet only grazed her.

Mr Helmus then pointed the gun at his forehead and pulled the trigger. He was seriously injured and was being treated at Sa Kaeo Crown Prince Hospital. Police believed the trio were planning to flee to Cambodia.

The three fugitives face multiple charges in connection with the escape, including colluding in an attempt to murder a state official on duty.

On Monday, Mr Noi shot Pol Capt Thanamet Photipan, a court policeman, who was also stabbed by Mr Helmus. The police officer suffered critical injuries. The incident happened shortly before the three were due to stand trial on drug charges.

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