The eight dead comprised three males and five females, police said, adding that three of the five females were children.
The gunmen arrived at the victims’ house in Moo 1 of tambon Baan Klang about 3pm on Monday (July 10), detained everyone in the house and waited until Worrayut Sanglang, a village head and the head of the murdered family, returned home at 8pm, the police investigation found.
The gunmen left the house at around 9pm and also took Mr Worrayut’s Toyota Yaris car. The car they drove to the victims’ house was later identified as a Toyota Fortuner registered in Songkhla province, police said.
Found dead at the scene were four adults – two men, two women – and one girl. Police identified them as Duangphon Sanglang, Suriya Sanglang, Sutthiphong Phrikdam, Anna Buttoeb and Phetdao Sanglang, aged 4.
Mr Worrayut and another two girls identified as Phraemaithong Sanglang, 13, and Gingthien Sanglang, 8, were later pronounced dead at the hospital where they were taken after officials arrived at the scene, police said. Phetdao, Phraemaithong and Gingthien were daughters of Mr Worrayut.
Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen, deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said the gunmen pretended to be security officers, claiming they had to raid the house because there was something illegal inside. .
Investigators were gathering evidence including footage from security cameras, fingerprints and other traces left at the scene, he said.
A 30-year-old woman who survived the attack because she fainted after a gunshot grazed the side of her ear, leading the gunmen to believe she was dead, is now being treated as a key eyewitness in the case, police said.
Police also collected DNA samples taken from food and drinks brought to the crime scene by the suspects while they waited for Mr Worrayut to come home, said an informed source.
The gunmen negotiated with Mr Worrayut about something, but the talks did not seem to go well.
The failed negotiations seemed to lead to their decision to murder him and the rest of the family members who had already seen the attackers’ faces, said the same source.
Two injured victims were identified as Ranchida Phrikdam and Rayida Phrikdam.
A source close to Provincial Police Region 8’s investigation team said the attackers also took the hard disk drive of the computer linked to 10 security cameras installed at the victims’ house.
“The investigation team is focusing more on personal conflict motives as the attackers appeared to be rather cruel. They spent hours waiting in the house without worrying that neighbours would suddenly show up,” said the source.
“They could have simply ambushed Mr Worrayut outside the house but they did not. It is believed they wanted to negotiate with Mr Worrayut and find something in the house before they shot him.”
Another police source said the attackers appeared to have planned the killings in advance as they collected all the spent bullet shells and took the hard disk drive to prevent the police from tracking them.
National police chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, who yesterday (July 11) travelled to Krabi to direct the investigation himself, earlier in the day ordered a team from the Crime Suppression Division to Krabi to work together with the local police investigating the case.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon urged the public to wait for the police probe into the case, and not jump to the conclusion the gunmen are soldiers simply because they were seen in military-like outfits.
“Several cases have happened lately and involved soldiers,” said Gen Prawit.
“Sometimes it was a personal conflict … and if that is the case, it would be incorrect to say any particular case concerns the army [before it is proved to be so].”
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was waiting to receive a formal report about the murders.
The police are investigating four possible motives for the massacre: a personal conflict with a local politician who is the president of a tambon administration organisation; a conflict linked with the construction of a stone mill; another conflict involving land encroachment; and the illegal drug trade, said another informed source.
Mr Worrayut had also led efforts seeking to evict eight villagers from encroached land.
Investigators also learned Mr Worrayut led a group of villagers to protest against a teacher found to have committed inappropriate behaviour, forcing the teacher to leave the community, said the source.
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