BANGKOK — Thai police on Wednesday detained a senior police officer who fired multiple gunshots from his home in Bangkok, ending a standoff of over 24 hours after his colleagues tried to take him to be treated for mental illness.
The gunman, identified as police Lt. Col. Kitikarn Sangbun was taken to hospital Wednesday for an injury after the ordeal, said police Lt. Gen. Samran Nualma, an assistant to the police chief. He did not specify the nature of Kitikarn's injury and how it was obtained, but said no others were injured.
Police Col. Rangsan Sornsing, superintendent of Sai Mai police station in Bangkok, said Wednesday that Kitikarn’s crazed episode began Tuesday morning.
“His superior officer was going to take him to be treated at a mental institute but the situation got out of hand,” Rangsan said.
Kitikarn then fired in the direction of police who arrived at the scene, starting the standoff.
Police evacuated and cordoned off the area surrounding Kitikarn’s home as they tried several methods to apprehend him.
Police fired tear gas Tuesday night and Kitikarn reportedly responded by firing a salvo of bullets. On Wednesday morning, a junior officer sang songs for Kitikarn in an attempt to calm him down, intermittently asking him to turn himself in.
The situation gathered national interest with the hashtag “crazed inspector” trending on Twitter in Thailand. A self-described Rishi hermit traveling from a temple in Bangkok arrived at the scene Tuesday night and said the gunman was possessed and that he would be able to solve the situation if they were allowed to meet, crime news website Ejan reported. Police did not allow the meeting to happen due to safety concerns.
The government’s National News Bureau of Thailand said in a Wednesday morning Twitter post that a bullet had grazed but not penetrated the helmet of one officer.
Thailand’s deadliest massacre took place last year when a former police officer shot and slashed to death 36 people at a daycare center. The country’s previous worst mass killing involved a disgruntled soldier who opened fire in and around a mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020, killing 29 people and holding off security forces for some 16 hours before eventually being killed by them.
Mass shootings are rare but not unheard of in Thailand, which has one of the highest civilian gun ownership rates in Asia with 15.1 weapons per 100 people compared to only 0.3 in Singapore and 0.25 in Japan. That’s still far lower than the United States rate of 120.5 per 100 people, according to a 2017 survey by Australia’s GunPolicy.org nonprofit organization.