PHETCHABUN: A large number of weapons were found in a police search of three houses belonging to a provincial councillor in Bung Sam Phan district on Saturday.
The search followed an incident on Friday when Somphop Thaiwattanatrakul, a member of the provincial council, who appeared drunk, opened fire at a police booth in tambon Wang Phikun with a handgun.
Mr Somphop on Saturday afternoon reported to Bung Sam Phan police with the handgun. He was initially charged with carrying a firearm and shooting it in public without a proper reason.
Pol Maj Gen Thadet Klomkiang, the provincial police chief, ordered Pol Col Hiran Pootrakul, the Bung Sam Phan police chief, to submit a request to the Wichian Buri Court for a warrant to search Mr Somphop's properties.
Armed with the warrant, a combined team of 60 police officers searched three houses belonging to Mr Somphop. In the search, in the presence of Mr Somphop, the police found in a house 16 permits permitting him to possess up to 16 weapons. The permits were issued by different former district chiefs of Bung Sam Phan district.
In another house, the police found 15 weapons - 13 handguns and two rifles - and about 500 rounds of assorted ammunition. The firearms and ammunition were taken to Bung Sam Phan police station for examination.
Sompong Thongnunui, the current district chief, sent an urgent letter dated June 3 to the governor of Phetchabun seeking permission to examine the 16 permits issued to Mr Somphop.
An investigation was underway into Mr Somphop's conduct to establish whether he should be put on probation or whether the permits for him to have firearms in possession should be revoked.