PROVINCIAL POLICE Region 4 chief Pol Lt-General Surachai Khuantechakhup yesterday said police officers would be justified in adopting a “shoot to kill” stance against the elusive drug suspect Suriyan Lekphet, who shot dead a policeman and injured another in Kalasin’s Tha Khantho district on Thursday, if he resisted their attempts to arrest him.
The extrajudicial killing could be applied, said Surachai, because the “merciless” fugitive had proved to be armed and dangerous, had fatally shot Pol Corporal Saran Muthaporn despite his plea for mercy and wounded another officer, Pol Sgt-Major Pramote Thipmongkol. At midday yesterday, a 20-hour search by scuba divers of Pao River confirmed Saran’s death when they retrieved the 26-year-old’s body, which had sustained a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Surachai and other senior officers inspected the shooting scene, a fishing pier in Ban Dong Somboon where Saran and Pramote fell into river and were shot on Thursday evening while attempting to arrest Suriyan.
Witnesses told police that they saw Saran and Pramote rowing a boat to the fishing pier to arrest the 48-year-old suspect assuming the man would not be armed. Suriyan, a former health station doctor in Tambon Dong Somboon, also fled with the two officers’ pistols, Surachai said. Saran’s father Kasem Muthaporn, a police colonel and commander of Muang Nong Khai police, was at the pier with his wife yesterday morning offering prayers for the search for Saran to succeed. Upon seeing the body of his son, Kasem had tears in his eyes and said Saran, a strong swimmer and former school athlete, must have been shot while trying to swim away from the shooter. He urged police to bring his son’s killer to justice but as of press time, a manhunt for Suriyan was still continuing in the area. Border checkpoints were also alerted to be on the look-out for Suriyan in case he tried to flee the country. Saran is said to have been a good-natured young man, who was close to his father and therefore decided to follow him into the police force. He was serving as a drugs-suppression officer with Investigation Division 2 of Provincial Police Region 4 when he was killed. He had also been about to take an exam for a ranking promotion. HP – EP