SA KAEO — A manhunt for drug suspects who staged a dramatic breakout from a Pattaya court came to an end Wednesday with one of the fugitives attempting to kill himself and police arresting the other two.
Bart Allen Helmus briefly held his wife and accomplice Sirinapa Wisetrit as a hostage at gunpoint as police were closing on them in Sa Kaeo province. He then shoots Sirinapa before turning the gun on himself. The other suspect, Noi Nilthes, also surrendered himself to the police on the same day.
Although initial reports from the scene said Helmus died from the gunshot wound, police later said he survived with serious injuries.
Noi stabbed a guard at the court building before fleeing the custody with Helmus and Sirinapa. The guard was hospitalized with injuries to his torso.
Sa Kaeo provincial police chief Maj. Gen. Prasai Chittisonthi said a province-wide police operation was launched on Tuesday to search for fleeing suspects, who were considered to be armed and dangerous.
Prasai said the operation involves more than 300 officers, drones, and a paramotor to provide a vantage point from the sky.
Two people were also apprehended on Tuesday for helping the suspects in a getaway.
According to the police, a man identified as “Max” had been seen dropping off a pickup truck – which was used as a getaway car by the suspects – outside the Rojana Industrial Estate in Chonburi on Tuesday before his girlfriend “Orn” rode a motorcycle to collect Max from the scene.
The identity of the helpers has not been released, but the police said they have a close connection with Noi.
A 50,000 baht bounty was offered by the police for information which leads to the recapture of suspects.
The trio were previously arrested on an allegation of possessing 1 kilogram of crystal meth and up to 229,000 tablets of amphetamine.
Pattaya acting police chief Col. Thanapong Phothi said the suspects have been charged with attempted murder of a police officer and possession of firearms as a result of their escape.
At least three getaway cars have been used in the apparent coordinated escape, the police said. Investigation is underway on how the suspects managed to obtain the weapons used in their breakout.