An influential kamnan in Nakhon Pathom has surrendered to police after a gunman killed a highway police officer and injured another following an argument over a promotion at the kamnan’s home late Wednesday night.
Praween Chankhlai, alias Kamnan Nok, turned himself in to Nakhon Pathom police late Thursday afternoon, not long after they obtained a warrant for his arrest for ordering the shootings. The gunman, who works for Mr Praween, remains at large.
Eyewitnesses have told investigators that the shootings took place after a request by Mr Praween for the transfer for his policeman nephew was rebuffed, said Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, commander of the Central Investigation Bureau.
Officers from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and Provincial Police Region 7 have been deployed to various spots in Nakhon Pathom and nearby provinces to search for the gunman, said Pol Maj Gen Montree Theskhan, the CSD commander.
Police have identified the suspect as Thananchai Manmak, 45.
According to a witness, Kamnan Nok had invited a group of highway policemen to his house in tambon Takong in Muang district to build familiarity. Two of the officers in the group were Pol Maj Sivakorn Saibua, chief of highway police station 1 under the Highway Police Sub-division 2, and Pol Lt Col Wasin Panpee, deputy commander of the Highway Police Sub-division 2.
Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said that around 10pm, Mr Praween got into an argument with Pol Maj Sivakorn and walked away. Shortly afterward, a gunman came to the dining table where the police were sitting and opened fire.
Witnesses said that before the shooting took place, Mr Praween had tried to talk Pol Maj Sivakorn into switching his nephew, a son of his younger brother, from an assignment at a patrol car to a motorcycle patrol squad, but Pol Maj Sivakorn rejected the request. He reportedly said promotions must adhere to regulations and be based on performance.
Mr Praween became angry, pounded his fist on the table and walked away. Five minutes later, Mr Thananchai appeared and started shooting.
Pol Maj Sivakorn sustained seven gunshot wounds and later succumbed to his injuries. Pol Lt Col Wasin was shot in the left arm and was admitted to a hospital.
The mugshot of the suspected gunman, Thananchai Manmak, 45, as supplied by the Central Investigation Bureau.
Pol Lt Gen Achayon Kraithong, the Royal Thai Police spokesman, said Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the national police chief, had ordered a police dragnet to arrest Mr Thananchai given the brazen nature of the crime.
A warrant for his arrest on charges of intentional murder, attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition and carrying a weapon in public without permission was issued by the Nakhon Pathom Court.
Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol, the deputy national police chief, said the gunman committed the crime in full view of many people who had been invited to the dinner. There were five dining tables, one of which was reserved for the highway police.
The other officers at the table included Pol Col Panuthat Luangsajjakul, chief investigator of Nakhon Pathom police headquarters; Pol Col Vachira Yaothaisong, commander of Highway Police Sub-division 2; Pol Col Krisdaporn Jong-aksorn, chief of Phaya Thai police in Bangkok; Pol Maj Narong Pitakchanuan, a highway police officer; and Pol Sgt Maj Pisit Chiewpreecha, a squad leader at highway police station 1 who is Mr Praween’s nephew.
Sitting at another table were some other highway police, officers from the local police station and Mr Praween’s men including Mr Thananchai, the suspected gunman.
“The action was outrageous. The gunman was audacious enough to carry out this act against the police in a public setting,” said Pol Gen Torsak.
“How can ordinary people can be certain about their safety? I have ordered the officers to quickly apprehend the suspect. The police have been told to take a decisive action n the event of any retaliation.”
Anyone else found to have been involved would face arrest warrants and legal consequences, the deputy police chief warned.
A police investigation revealed that Mr Praween boasted in public about his close connections with former national-level politicians, police and many local politicians and frequently held parties at his house.
A 25-million-baht Bentley car was seen parked near the pool villa where the shooting took place.
Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said he would also send a request to the national police chief to transfer the case to be handled by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD).
Praween Chankhlai, alias Kamnan Nok (photo supplied)
Pol Maj Sivakorn Saibua (photo supplied)