PATTAYA – August 28, 2012 [PDN]: Two separate shootings involving the prison in Pattaya are apparently not related, police said at a 9 a.m. press conference.
On August 26 at 1:30 a.m., an unknown gunman or gunmen fired more than 30 rounds from an M16 Rifle into the Pattaya Remand Prison in Banglamung. An inmate was injured, and the exterior walls of the prison were damaged by the bullets.
On July 19, the home of a warden at the Pattaya prison was also fired upon with a similar weapon. The warden has since transferred to a Bangkok prison.
Security has been beefed up in the aftermath of the prison assault, said Mr.Somchai Wimansak, the commander of the Pattaya special prison.
He made the announcement after several meetings with police that were closed to the media. He confirmed that an M16 Rifle had been used in the daring attack on the prison.
Later the same day at 3:30 p.m., police officials met privately again for an hour at the Banglamung police station, attended by Pol. Col. Pisit Proyrungroj, vice commissioner of Chonburi provincial police; Mr. Somchai Wamansak; Pol.Jackrin Tuansuparp, the vice director police detective department; and related police officers.
After the meeting, Pol. Col. Pisit Proyrungroj said police still could not disclose in detail the motives for the prison assault.
Their investigation also revealed that in the prison shooting, the trajectory of the bullets indicated that most of the shots were fired in the air as a threatening gesture.
Only two shots were directly aimed at the prison’s Area 4 quarters, where drug offenders are housed. Pol. Col. Pisit continued that the shooter at the prison was aiming at the prisoners, and not correctional officers.
However, from their preliminary investigation, the shooting did not appear linked to the July 9 attack on Mr. Wuttipan Krajuikrajai’s house, the former warden of Pattaya prison, although an M16 had also been used in that shooting.
However, officers have been assigned to examine closely the heads of the fired bullets at the prison to see if they match the same type and the same M16 Rifle that fired at the warden’s home.
In addition, testimony from prison officers and witnesses revealed that a group of over 10 young men riding motorcycles at the scene of the prison shooting had ridden away and escaped.
Police are searching for the gang, whom they suspect are still in the neighborhood. It is still unclear if the shooting is drug related, since there is no clear evidence. Investigation is continuing on whether the gang of motorbikers is involved.
Reliable sources told a police officer that the criminal used a war weapon to fire the prison, similar to the M16 used to shoot at the house of Mr. Wuttipan. Also on August 10, a bomb of unknown origin was thrown into Mr. Wuttipan’s house, but no one was injured.
In investigating the two attacks on the warden’s home, the police gathered information that suggested five scenarios:
1. There were inmates who gave the warden several hundred thousand baht to help an inmate to get bailed out of prison. But he instead spent the money freely without helping the inmate.
2. He had opened a football gambling operation in the recent EU football league.
3. He found methamphetamine drugs on a relative who was visiting an inmate, which resulted in a corrections officer getting fired.
4. He had an affair with the wife of a high-ranking official in the Muang Pattaya, because he was a good-looking man who had many affairs.
5. He behaved like he had influence because he was close to the commander of the prison, which caused many warders to dislike him.
The latest report on the warden was that he had allegedly filed to get a loan for seven hundred thousand baht from cooperatives. But it was not clear if the money was intended to be used for the possible scenarios mentioned. The warden has since filed to relocate to a prison in Bangkok.
However, the police were not complacent about the recent prison shooting. It was a deadly case that involved an attack on government buildings. Police officers have been assigned to investigate for in-depth information to track down and arrest the gunmen.