The teenager, who was reported to have been wearing traditional-style Muslim clothing, was caught stealing various items last month but managed to evade police capture. His choice of attire and criminal behavior angered the predominantly Muslim crowd. An arrest warrant was subsequently issued.
Around 7pm last night (January 24), Pol Cpl Suwit Chatri spotted the teen at a gas station in Kamala, and recognised him. Seeing the police, the boy tried to evade capture.
Upon hearing what was going on, around 20 locals then tried to help police to capture the teenager, with the group all chasing him.
The teenager escaped into the construction site for Kamala Regent Hotel. He was followed by the police and the angry group of Kamala locals.
Locals got to the teenager first and began hitting him with a piece of wood, determined to make the teenager pay for his alleged crime. Cpl Suwit tried to stop the angry locals, by standing in front of the teenager, and raised a gun in the air.
Some misunderstanding took place, with the locals thinking the police were going to hurt them. More and more locals heard the commotion and joined in.
Once the situation was eventually defused, the teenager was taken to hospital and locals followed the police to the police station, still angry.
Pol Maj Somnurk Damkaew said the residents were scared and worried there would be a lot of violence.
The group left the police station after Maj Gen Choti Chavalviwat, Commander of Phuket Provincial Police, explained the situation to them.
“It rained hard last night and Maj Gen Choti went to the police station. He tried to talk and explain to them. Everyone left at around midnight,” Maj Somnurk told The Phuket News.
He praised Cpl Suwit for his courage. "If he had not stopped the people [from attacking], the boy would have died,” he said.
The teenager was taken to hospital with serious injuries, and will be spoken to by police when his condition improves.