BANGKOK — Police said Tuesday they have yet to identify the individuals who fired shots at protesters during skirmishes between two rival groups near the parliament last month, injuring six people.
Tao Poon police superintendent Krit Kanchana said investigators are still waiting on forensic test results before naming any suspects. Although an ultraroyalist demonstrator at the scene was later arrested with possession of a .357 revolver, Col. Krit said he believes the man was not responsible for the shooting.
“We believe it’s not him who fired the shots since he was at a different location than the wounded persons,” Col. Krit said. “We’re analyzing evidence and reviewing CCTV footage, but we have yet to identify the gunman at the moment.”
The man was identified by police as Kasidit Leelamuktanun, 35. Kasidit was reportedly apprehended by soldiers from a nearby military base while he was trying to hide his firearm in the bush during the protest near the parliament on Nov. 17. He was charged with illegal firearm possession and later released on bail.
This video, taken by Khaosod earlier tonight, may help you get the sense of how it was like to be caught in the maelstrom of confrontation between pro-reform protesters and hardline royalists at Kiakkai Intersection. #ม็อบ17พฤศจิกายน #Thailand #whatshappeninginthailand pic.twitter.com/9HncIQYU8h
— Khaosod English (@KhaosodEnglish) November 17, 2020
The demonstrations on Nov. 17 escalated into clashes between protesters seeking reforms and pro-establishment supporters who were gathering close by. Hundreds of police officers deployed around the parliament did not move to separate the two sides.
Series of gunshots were heard at Kiakkai Intersection while the rival protesters were throwing projectiles at each other. Six people suffered gunshot wounds that night, according to the City Hall’s emergency response department.
Although deputy metro police commander Piya Tawichai had said earlier that the gunman is likely to be one of the guards of the pro-democracy movement, the Tao Poon station’s superintendent said it is too early to tell which side the gunman belonged to.
Krit did confirm the news that all of the victims wounded by gunfire on Nov. 17 were members of the pro-democracy movement.
“The locations where wounded persons were shot scattered across different spots,” Krit said. “However, all the six were People’s Party demonstrators.”
Another shooting broke out at a pro-democracy rally close to the Siam Commercial Bank’s main office just a week later, on Nov. 26.
Two people were reportedly injured during the incident, which police described as an “internal conflict” among different groups of protesters’ volunteer security guards. One of the assailants was sent to hospital after protesters caught and beat him as he was trying to flee the scene.
Police said they are preparing to issue arrest warrants for two more individuals involved in the shooting, which took place just as the demonstrators were leaving the protest.
Phahonyothin police superintendent Atthawut Niwatsophon said investigators have already identified the two suspects, though he refused to reveal their names, citing an ongoing investigation.
“We’re tracking them at the moment,” Col. Atthawut said in an interview. “However, I can’t divulge the details right now since it may alert the suspects.”
Protesters had also refused police’s assessment, made in less than 24 hours after the incident, that blamed rivalry among the groups for the shooting.
Members of the volunteer guards told the media they believe the attack was carried out by agent provocateurs who infiltrated their rank to incite violence and disunity among the protesters.