SURAT THANI: A police officer attached to the Khirirat Nakhom police station was suspected to have been involved in an armed attack at a house in Khirirat Nikhom district that left four people dead on Saturday, Provincial Police Region 8 commissioner Pol Lt Gen Surapong Thanomchit said on Sunday.
Pol Lt Gen Surapong was referring to the attack at a house at Moo 8 village in tambon Kapao by a group of armed men. He said there were four men in the group: Pol Snr Sgt-Maj Atthaporn Wichian, 46, of Khirirat Nikhom police station; his elder brother Thammarat Wichian, 48; and a man identified as Manop Wang-ngan, 57. The other suspect was not yet identified.
It was earlier reported that there were six or seven men involved in the attack.
Four people were reported killed in the attack: Thammarong Nilniyom, 60, the owner of the house; his wife Nilthip Palakachen, 49; Pornsak Phetchu, 56, a former chief of Moo 13 village in tambon Tha Khanon; and another man yet to be identified.
Pol Lt Gen Surapong said the unidentified man was in fact Thammarat, the elder brother of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn.
From a police investigation and footage from a security camera, at about 1.06pm on Saturday the four suspects arrived at the house in a Toyota Vios car.
Three of them – Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn, his elder brother Thammarat and Mr Manop – got out of the car. The police officer and his elder brother were each armed with an M16 rifle and Mr Manop with a shotgun.
One of the three men opened fire at Nilthip who was sitting by a large water jar, killing her instantly. The three then stormed into the house and went on a shooting spree. Thammarong, the house owner, and Pornsak were killed. One of the attackers, Thammarat, was shot dead – possibly by one of the victims who returned fire.
When the noise of gunfire went silent, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn and Mr Manop ran out of the house and fled in the waiting Toyota Vios.
Pol Lt Gen Surapong said Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn, Mr Manop and the car driver were still at large. Police were seeking court warrants for their arrests on murder charges.
He said Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn was Thammarong's son-in-law. Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn divorced his former wife in October 2022 and married Ms Panida, Thammarong's only daughter, who divorced her former husband in mid 2022. Thammarong reportedly disliked Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn and wanted to break up their marriage, causing the two to be in conflict.
The conflict was believed to be the motive of the armed attack on Saturday. An investigation was continuing, Pol Lt Gen Surapong added.