3 inmates, one of them American, shoot policeman and flee
CHON BURI: Three drug inmates, one of them an American, shot and stabbed a police officer at the Provincial Court in Pattaya before fleeing in what appeared to be a getaway pickup truck on Monday.
The Courts of Justice identified the inmates as Noi Nilthes, Sirinapa Wisetrit and an American national, Bart Allen Helmus.
The three are being tried on drug charges. Ms Sirinapa is Mr Helmus’s wife and they were charged together while Mr Noi faced the drug offence separately.
Courts of Justice spokesman Suriyan Hongwilai said the charges against the three carry a maximum death sentence.
According to Pattaya police, the three were among 14 inmates remanded in custody at the Special Prison at Nong Pla Lai in Bang Lamung district, who were being transported to the court to stand trial on Monday.
Shortly after the three inmates arrived at the court, loud shouts were heard, followed by the sound of gunshots.
Mr Suriyan said Mr Noi shot a court police officer, identified as Pol Capt Thanamet Photipan, who was also stabbed with a knife by Mr Helmus.
Pol Capt Thanamet was reported to be in a critical condition at a local hospital.
After shooting the policeman, Mr Noi told the court security staff in the area to make way for his and other two inmates’ escape.
The three, who were shackled, then ran from the back of the court’s compound to the car park and fired a few shots in the air before getting into an Isuzu pick-up truck and speeding off along the Thep Prasit Road.
It was unclear how the inmates obtained the gun and the knife and whether the Isuzu pick-up truck had been parked there to help with their escape.
Mr Suriyan said the Pattaya police were reviewing footage from the surveillance cameras installed along the inmates’ escape route. The crime appeared to have been planned, he added.
According to the court, Mr Noi was indicted on charge of possessing 229,800 methamphetamine pills and 100 ecstacy tablets. Mr Helmus and Ms Sirinapa face trial for possessing a kilogramme of crystal methamphetamine or "ya ice".