SURAT THANI: The Khirirat Nikhom police chief has been transferred pending an investigation into the lethal attack by three gunmen, led by an officer under his command, on a family's home in his district on Saturday, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Monday.
Pol Gen Surachate said four people were involved in the attack. They were Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn Wichian, his elder brother Thammarat, his son Atthapol, and Manop Wang-ngan. Three of them stormed into the house and were believed armed with two M16 rifles and one 9mm pistol. Atthapol was the driver of the car that took them to the house.
Four people were killed - Thammarong Nilniyom, the house owner, his wife Nilthip Palakachen, Pornsak Phetchu, and one of the gunmen, Thammarat. Thammarat was believed to have been shot dead by one of the victims, who returned fire.
On Sunday, the Surat Thani Court approved warrants for the arrest of Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn, who is stationed in Khirirat Nikhom district, and Mr Manop on murder charges.
On Sunday night, Atthapol, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn's son by a former wife, was found dead in a car parked inside a temple in Ban Takhun district where funeral rites for Thammarat were being held. His hands were tied and he was shot in the right temple.
On Monday morning, Panida Nilniyom, Thammarong's only daughter and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn's wife, was found dead at a resort in tambon Tha Khanon, Khirirat Nakhom district. She was shot in the mouth.
On Monday afternoon, Mr Manop, one of the two prime suspects, was arrested in Thap Put district, Phang-nga province.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn remained at large on Tuesday morning.
Pol Gen Surachate said Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn had fled with an M16 rifle and a 9mm pistol. He was armed and dangerous.
He had ordered Khirirat Nikhom police station to report to him about the distribution of weapons since the two M16s reportedly used in Saturday's attack might belong to the station.
Pol Lt Gen Surapong Thanomchit, the Provincial Police Region 8 commissioner, had issued an order transfering Pol Col Kriangkrai Ketkaew, the Khirirat Nikhom police chief, to assist at the Region 8 operations centre, pending an investigation into Saturday's attack and the deaths of the six people.
Pol Gen Surachate said Thammarong had previously been shot and wounded by an assailant using a military-grade weapon on Dec 31, 2022, but police did not investigate the incident.
The investigation panel would find out whether it was related to Saturday's attack, he said.
In Bangkok, national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas on Monday night confirmed the arrest of Mr Manop in Phang-nga province.
From evidence in hand, forensic examination of those killed and the timeline, it was initially believed Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn killed his wife Panida at the resort before going with the three other suspects to the house in Khirirat Nikhom district where four people were killed, he said.
A feud between Pol Snr Sgt Maj Atthaporn and his father-in-law Thammarong might be the motive for the attack, he said.