John Edward Cohen, 33, thought to be from Sydney, fired at least two shots in crowded Soi Sansabai in an attempt to hit a Danish man who owed money to the two Australians. He missed and hit the Germans.
He was charged with attempted murder and having a gun in a public place.
The other Australian, Adam Lewis Shea, 26, from Launceston in Tasmania, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Although the violence was, according to the duo, over an unpaid debt, there is rising speculation that both men are members of an Australian outlaw biker gang, possibly the Rebels. The Rebels are Australia’s largest gang, with around 2,000 members.
This possibility was given extra credence yesterday when the Acting Commissioner of New South Wales Police, Nick Kaldas, told press in Sydney that although there had not yet been any contact with Thai police, “We’re obviously happy to help in any way that we can.”
“We don’t have any jurisdiction over there but I would say that any spreading influence of bikie groups, whether it’s interstate or overseas, it’s something we’re concerned about, we’re not happy about it,” he was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.
Police have branded the reports that Cohen is a member of the Rebels as “just a rumour” but sources in Phuket’s legitimate biker community have confirmed that they have seen him on bike rides wearing Rebels “colours” – the leather jacket with Rebels insignia.
One expressed surprise at Cohen’s involvement in the shooting. “He’s a good bloke,” he said. “Never any trouble.”
But he added that Thai police have been aware of the presence in Phuket of members of the Hell’s Angels and Bandidos gangs – two of the most notoriously violent groups – and have asked the legitimate bikers “to keep an eye on them”.
A couple of years ago, he said, there were fears that members of these two gangs would disrupt the annual Bike Week with gang-on-gang violence, but this had been averted by “quiet chats” with members of both gangs.
“They were told, ‘See how many there are of you, and how many there are of us. If you f*** up Bike Week, we’ll f*** you up.’”