Police Arrest Gunslinging Clerk for Bringing Down Court Shooter

Relatives of the plaintiff's lawyer Wijai Sukharom collecting his body from a hospital on Nov. 13, 2019.
Relatives of the plaintiff's lawyer Wijai Sukharom collecting his body from a hospital on Nov. 13, 2019.

CHANTHABURI — Police on Wednesday arrested a legal clerk for shooting a defendant who opened fire in the courtroom, killing the plaintiff and his lawyer Tuesday.

National police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said Thanakorn Theerawaradom, 22, a clerk to the plaintiff’s lawyers, was apprehended Wednesday morning after he used the gun belonging to an on-duty police officer inside the Chanthaburi court to shoot and kill Thanin Chantratip.

The confirmation was made despite earlier media reports that Thanin was brought down by a policeman inside the courtroom.

Read: Defendant Opens Fire in the Courtroom, Killing Plaintiff and Lawyer

Thanakorn was charged with murder of Thanin, though the spokesman declined to comment whether it was an act of self-defense or how Thanakorn managed to remove the gun from a police officer.

“We have to wait for more details from the investigators,” Col. Krissana said. “Thanakorn will have to go through the legal process and we will call in the police officer who is the owner of the gun for inquiries as well.”

Details on how the defendant managed to smuggle his pistol into the court also emerged today. Court of Justice sec-gen Sarawut Benchakul said CCTV footage showed Thanin waiting for the security guard who manned security checkpoint to leave his post for the morning national flag raising ceremony, and then bringing the firearm into the building.

“We have deployed marshals to investigate the shooting and we will also review security measures at courthouse nationwide,” Sarawut said.

Thanin’s ex-wife Khemjira Bantoonnipit, who divorced him four years ago, said her ex-husband was waiting to surrender himself after the shooting but was shot by Thanakorn before the police arrived.

Thanin had been fighting in a legal dispute over a 3,800 rai (608 hectares) land plot in Tha Mai district of Chanthaburi for over eight years.

“He thought he was unfairly treated in the land ownership,” Khemjira told reporters. “He had even been pressured by a senior police officer to drop the case.”

According to spokesman for the Court of Justice Suriyan Hongwilai, the shooting happened before the court was in session, when Thanin and the plaintiff Bancha Porameesanaporn were arguing. Thanin drew his gun and shot Bancha, Bancha’s wife, and their lawyers.

Bancha and his lawyer Wijai Sukharom died at the hospital later that day, while Bancha’s wife Supaporn Porameesanaporn and another lawyer Wichai Udomthanapat were severely injured. Thanin also died at the hospital.

The doctor said Wednesday that Supaporn and Wichai are now in stable condition.