BANGKOK — Destroyed security cameras were discovered Monday among the stash of gambling equipment close to an illegal casino where four people were killed last week, including a policeman.
Police said the cache was hidden inside a building just across the gambling den located in Soi Rama III 66, and it included baccarat tables, chips, cards, CCTVs, and their servers. However, forensic police Maj. Gen. Wisut Najku said that the cameras were damaged and their feed could not be retrieved.
The gambling den has been the center of national attention since the shootout on Aug. 4 that left a police officer and three others dead. Police initially said that an investigation had to be made into whether the venue could be classified as a casino, since they only found one gambling table.
Police also initially said no security cameras were found at the crime scene.
The claim was met with widespread mockery, as photos circulated online of the den prior to the shooting showed it was packed with casino equipment and CCTVs – and of men removing them.
On Sunday, police arrested Thanabul Sarnleuk, 46, one of the men suspected of moving those equipment. Metro police chief Lt. Gen. Pakkapong Pongpetra said Thanabul confessed, and has been charged with colluding in destruction of evidence.
He was released on 200,000 baht bail.
Pakkapong said six men in total are suspected of tampering with the evidence and, and police are currently searching for them.
Thung Maha Mek police said that witnesses who were injured in the shooting, four of whom are currently being hospitalized, have already been questioned.
The shootout reportedly began when one of the four dead, Thavorn Seesod, lost a million baht in a bet and accused the dealer of rigging the game.
When policeman Wathaseth Sumniangprasert, 32, intervened on the dealer’s behalf, Thavorn shot Wathaseth, the dealer, and another casino worker, according to media reports.
Phiphit Srisuwan, 61, then allegedly shot Thavorn before fleeing the scene. He surrendered to police Friday and has been charged with murder as well as firearms offenses. Phiphit says he acted out of self defense.
Pakkapong said police are still investigating how many guns were used in the shootout. “We still have to determine how many guns were used,” Pakkapong said. “There was definitely more than one.”
Forensic police are said to be conducting a ballistics examination on Phiphit’s gun, which he brought to police when he turned himself in. The autopsies of the four dead are ongoing, investigators said.
Police are also questioning the gambling den’s most recent subtenant, a man named Wasan Pengyai, 34. Pakkapong said Wasan was hired to sublet the property and manage the gambling den.
Law enforcement authorities have often busted illegal gambling operations but largely steered clear of the ones owned by local influential figures.
Chuvit Kamolvisit, who was one of such influential figures before entering politics, said that a man known as “Hia Tee” is the owner of the casino where Wathaseth was shot dead along with three others.
Pakkapong said police have not summoned “Hia Tee” yet.
“We will try to investigate all the involved individuals. I hope we can arrest the person behind the casino,” Pakkapong said.
Deadly Shootout: Cops to Determine If Gambling Den is a Gambling Den