CHIANG RAI – Pol Lt-Gen Poonsap Prasertsak, commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 5 has told Thai media that the Mysterious bullet that killed a 35-year-old driver of a car at a road checkpoint in Mae Suai district of Chiang Rai on Jan 2 was probably fired by one of four assistant village headmen manning the checkpoint.
Pol Lt-Gen Poonsap said that the checkpoint was not manned by the police but local administration officials who included district officials, village headman and assistant, and volunteers.
He said it was a temporary traffic checkpoint where no police were deployed.
Pol Lt-Gen Poonsap disclosed that some of the four assistant headmen admitted they opened fire with their service guns, but claimed that they fired into the air or they simply fired warning shots with no intention to kill or harm the driver.
He went on to say the police officers had questioned the four assistant headmen and the assistant village chief has been arrested and charged for allegedly killing a driver.
Villagers claim that the assistant headmen were drunk, however the police commissioner said some of them admitted to the police that they drank alcohol but were not drunk.
Pol Maj Krittinan Wiengkham, an officer on duty at the Mae Suai police station, said Wutthichai Injai was arrested and charged on Thursday following an approved arrest warrant from the Chiang Rai Court.
Deputy Chiang Rai police chief Pol Col Veerayuth Prasopchokchai said the suspect denied the charges, although he admitted to firing into the sky three shots from a 9mm pistol at the time.
The lawyer of the victim’s family, Mr Thirasak Yanyongcherdchaikul, said the family was satisfied with police investigation up to a certain level.
The case has caught public attention since the clip of the incident from the camera installed in Sornchai’s car was posted in social media. It shows a dark area with dim flashlights and some hands gesturing the driver to stop.
The fatal shooting happened at about 8.30pm on Jan 2 when Chiang Rai native, Sornchai Sathitdamrong, 35, drove his sedan threw a road checkpoint. Sornchai’s girlfriend, Sirirat Rabiang who was also in the car, said they did not stop the car for a check because they did not see authorities manning the checkpoint.
But as the car was about 10 metres from the checkpoint, she heard a thud of what appeared to be a gunshot and then she saw Sornchai’s head bend backward and the car engine accelerated before the car smashed into a roadside power pole.
Rescue workers and military personnel later arrived at the scene and rushed Sornchai to the district hospital, but he was already dead before arriving there.
Police Talk to Villagers after man shot and killed at Checkpoint