Thai police arrest 2 suspects for selling gun to alleged mall shooter

Mariyam Ahmad and Nontarat Phaicharoen, Bangkok
Pattani, Thailand and Bangkok
Thai police arrest 2 suspects for selling gun to alleged mall shooter Police search a house in Yala province, southern Thailand, for evidence tied to the sale of a weapon used in a deadly shooting at a shopping mall in Bangkok, Oct. 5, 2022. In this handout photo, police have blurred the faces of two people in the house.
Handout photo/Yala Police

Two men were arrested in Thailand’s Deep South on suspicion of selling a modified handgun and parts to a 14-year-old boy accused in a deadly shooting spree at a Bangkok shopping mall earlier this week, police said Thursday.

Five criminal charges, including premeditated murder, have been filed against the teenager in relation to the shooting that left two people dead and several others injured at the Siam Paragon shopping mall on Tuesday.

Police in the southern province of Yala said a father and son had been arrested on suspicion of selling a gun to the juvenile.

“Two suspects were arrested last night and then sent to Bangkok immediately,” Maj. Gen. Seksan Churangarit, the superintendent of Yala provincial police, told BenarNews on Thursday.

Seksan identified the arrested suspects as Suwanahong Bharmkanajarn, 45, and his 22-year-old son, Akrawit Jaithong.

Bank transactions showed the alleged gunman bought components from the two suspects, Seksan said.

Photos released by police showed a stash of confiscated pistol magazines and gun parts, which police said could be used to modify a “blank gun” to fire bullets.

On Tuesday evening, the suspect allegedly used a modified blank gun to shoot at people inside the upscale mall, killing the two foreigners and injuring five other people before police apprehended him within an hour, officials said.

A Chinese national and a citizen of Myanmar were identified as the two people killed in the attack.

suspects 3.jpg
A stash of gun magazines on the floor of a house where two suspects were arrested for allegedly selling a modified gun, Oct. 5, 2023. [Handout/Yala Police]

The suspect, whose name and image have not been released because of his age, has been charged with premeditated murder; attempted murder; illegal possession of a firearm; carrying a firearm in a public place without a permit; and firing a gun in a public place without a permit.

He will be tried in a juvenile court.

Although mass shootings are relatively rare in Thailand, the attack has raised questions about gun control in the majority-Buddhist nation.

Statistical data from the Metropolitan Police Bureau revealed that between 2016 and 2019, 25,034 reported incidents involved licensed firearms, compared to 91,376 incidents involving unlicensed ones.

Insights from the Small Arms Survey in 2018 showed that Thailand has an estimated 10.3 million civilian-owned firearms, which translates to 15 firearms for every 100,000 individuals, ranking the country 48th globally and first among Southeast Asian nations. Of these, only 6.2 million firearms have proper legal documentation.

In line with Thai legislation, those convicted of unauthorized possession of firearms or ammunition could face potential jail time ranging from one to 10 years, along with a fine.

In Thailand, those who can legally own firearms must be at least 20 years old, not physically or mentally disabled, not considered mentally deranged or unstable, and should not have been previously incarcerated for criminal offenses.


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