Frenchman Gerard Pecherstorfer, who has lived in Phuket for 14 years, was taken into custody by Patong Traffic Police on 50 Pi Rd (Hasip Pi Rd) around noon after police were informed of shots fired in the neighbourhood.
Mr Pecherstorfer, who according to his Facebook profile was a member of French Foreign Legion from 1986 to 2002, had pulled out a 9mm handgun amid a fight with Russian tourist Sergey Antonov, Patong Police Chief Col Chaiwat Uikum told The Phuket News.
The incident tracks back to Jan 19, when Mr Antonov, from Moscow, and a friend rented a motorbike from Mr Pecherstorfer’s wife, Col Chaiwat said.
“They rented a Honda PCX for one day and left Mr Antonov’s passport as collateral,” he explained.
The men did not return the motorbike until Jan 26, but then paid the rental fee and asked to continue to rent the bike, Col Chaiwat explained.
“When the men returned today (Feb 7) to continue renting the bike, Mr Pecherstorfer’s wife said they couldn’t as by now she had realised that that passport given as collateral had expired,” he said.
The wife said they had to give her a valid passport, and Mr Antonov, who celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday (Feb 6), said he would go back to his hotel to fetch his current one.
“The wife asked Mr Antonov’s friend to wait while Mr Antonov fetched his passport, but after Mr Antonov left on the rented motorbike, his friend ran away,” Col Chaiwat said.
“The wife ran after him, but couldn’t catch him. Just then, Mr Pecherstorfer returned from a trip to the bank, and so he and his wife took a motorbike to look for him.
“They soon found Mr Antonov on the motorbike on 50 Pi Rd, where Mr Pecherstorfer pulled him over and they started arguing,” he added.
The war of words escalated and Mr Pecherstorfer claimed that the Russian struck him in the face, prompting Mr Pecherstorfer to take 9mm handgun out from under his motorbike seat and fire one shot into the ground, Col Chaiwat said.
“Mr Antonov then charged at Mr Pecherstorfer and snatched the gun away from him. The gun fired during the struggle, but no one was hit,” he said.
Mr Antonov wrestled his French adversary to the ground and waited for the police, who took both men to Patong Police Station.
Mr Antonov was charged with assault but Mr Pecherstorfer faces a slew of gun charges.
“Mr Pecherstorfer said he took a lot of money to the bank, so he took the gun with him. Police have confirmed that the gun is registered to his wife,” Col Chaiwat explained.
Regardless, Mr Pecherstorfer was charged with possession of another person’s firearm, carrying a firearm in a public place, and firing a gun in a public place, Col Chaiwat confirmed.