PHUKET- Two German tourists have been shot and wounded overnight near Patong Beach in Phuket, Joseph Woerner and Johann Baschegger were hit, one in the arm and the other in the shoulder.
An hour later police arrested the tattoo parlour owner, John Cohen, believed to have been the one who fired the gun, A Ruger .45 semiautomatic pistol which was seized by Police.
John Cohen, 32, and Adam Shea, 26, shot two German bystanders in their attempt to “strike first” against an alleged Danish mafioso, named by police only as “Dannie”.A bullet went through Mr Werner’s right arm and he was deemed to be critical condition. Mr Baschenegger was also hit in the right arm by a bullet from a pistol of unknown calibre.
CCTV footage shows Mr Cohen and Mr Shea walking into many hotels along the street and asking the receptionist for Dannie, Col Arun explained.
“That’s when they spotted Dannie leaving the hotel on a motorbike. Both of them ran out of the hotel, and one of them opened fire with the handgun. However, they missed Dannie and hit two German tourists in front of the Family Mart,” he added.
Both parties were expected to show up in court yesterday to resolve a dispute about a “Big Bike” worth about 300,000 baht. Dannie did not come to the hearing, Col Arun said.
During police questioning, Mr Cohen allegedly told police that Dannie had sent a group of mafia men to his Phuket home.
“He used to live in Pattaya before moving here. I was afraid he would shoot me since he did not show up at court. So me and my friend decided to make a move first,” Mr Cohen told police.
Both suspects have been charged with attempted murder and for illegal possession of a firearm.
Police are now scouring the island for Dannie.
The two tourists injured by the stray bullets fired in Soi San Sabai, off of Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, were taken to Patong Hospital.
“Johann Baschenegger, 42, and Joseph Woerner, 71, were both shot in the arm,” Patong Police Superintendent Chiraphat Pochanaphan said.
Mr Baschenegger arrived in Phuket around midnight on January 21.
“My friend Joseph arrived before me. We were hanging out in front of the hotel when we were both shot in the arm,” Mr Baschenegger said.
Col Chiraphat expressed his concern about how detrimental such an incident could be to Phuket’s vital tourism industry.
“The suspects opened fire in the middle of a dense tourism area and injured two innocent people. They have seriously tarnished Thailand’s reputation and must face the highest penalties under the law,” Col Chiraphat said.