The robber lunged again, forcing the officer to draw his firearm and shoot in self-defence, Deputy Chief of Phuket City Police Lt Col Chana Suthimas told The Phuket News today (Jan 15).
Police were notified through the 191 hotline of a robbery in progress in front of a single-level apartment building in Soi Hongleng-U-Thit, off Mae Luan Rd in Phuket Town, at 2:20am, Lt Col Chana explained.
People living in the area called the police after seeing a young couple being robbed at knifepoint, he added.
Officers Snr Sgt Maj Nirute Boonrat and Cpl Warat Jairerng, on patrol at the time, responded to the call.
They arrived to find Aekkasit Kesorn, 34, from Nakhorn Sri Thammarat, still threatening the couple, Miss Amara Laosin, 30, from Krabi, and Mr Pongpat Chaichon, 29, from Trang, with a knife.
“They were frightened and asking for help. Miss Amara was bleeding from a knife wound on the left side of her stomach,” Lt Col Chana said.
Aekkasit was holding Pongpat’s bag, which contained two mobile phones valued at about B8,000, Lt Col Chana added.
“The officers ordered Aekkasit to stop and place the knife on the ground, but he ran forward at Cpl Warat and attacked him with the knife. Cpl Warat used his baton to stop him, but Aekkasit turned and attacked Snr Sgt Maj Nirute,” Lt Col Chana said.
“Snr Sgt Maj Nirute was wounded in the left side of his neck and fell to the ground. Aekkasit tried to attack him again, so Snr Sgt Maj Nirute drew his gun and fired one shot to stop him,” he said.
“Aekkasit was shot in the neck. He collapsed and died at the scene,” Lt Col Chana noted.
According to the police report issued to the press later today, Inspector Capt Ronnaphum Permpoon, Deputy Chief of Phuket City Police Investigation Division, has filed charges against both Aekkasit and Snr Sgt Maj Nirute while police complete their investigation.
For the robbery of Miss Amara and Mr Pongpat, although now dead Aekkasit posthumously faces charges of committing robbery in the nighttime, causing injuries to others and carrying a weapon in public.
For the attack on the police officers he also faces charges of attempting to kill officers while on duty and carrying a weapon in public without necessary reason.
For firing the fatal shot that killed Aekkasit, Snr Sgt Maj Nirute faces a charge of manslaughter (under Thai law, technically a “Murder 2” charge).
Asked why Snr Sgt Maj Nirute failed to aim his firearm somewhere less potentially fatal, Lt Col Chana said, “While he was being attacked, there simply was not enough time. Snr Sgt Maj Nirute said Aekkasit was so close, and that he fired just one shot.”
The injuries sustained by Snr Sgt Maj Nirute and Miss Amara were not serious and both were allowed to leave Vachira Phuket Hospital to go home today, Lt Col Chana said.
Officers will question Snr Sgt Maj Nirute later, he added.
Phuket City Police Chief Col Theerawat Liamsuwan today went to inspect Aekkasit’s body at the Vachira Phuket Hospital morgue, where he told the press that Aekkasit had a criminal record and had previously been charged for drugs and illegal possession of a firearm.
“He was arrested and charged with illegal possession of gun in Phuket, in 2012, and arrested and charged possession of an illegal drug in Nakhon Sri Thammarat that same year,” he said.
Col Theerawat did not specify which drug Aekkasit had previously been charged for, but Lt Col Chana earlier today told The Phuket News, “We found methamphetamine in his blood.”