A 7-year-old boy is in critical condition in hospital after being struck by bullets fired at a pickup truck being driven by his father in Buriram’s Chalerm Phrakiat district.
Police said the shots were fired by a former drug inmate who apparently believed the driver had been flirting with his girlfriend. The driver said the gunman, who is still at large, had targeted the wrong man.
The shooting occurred on Charoensuk-Sawaisor Road in tambon Charoensuk on Friday evening, said Pol Capt Phanas Krotprakhon, deputy investigation chief at the Chalerm Phrakiat police station.
Police who rushed to the scene found a white pickup truck with Buriram licence plates parked on the road leading to Wat Khao Angkhan.
There were 6 bullet holes in the driver’s side door, one in the windscreen and one in the front right headlight. 12 bullets were found inside the vehicle and 15 cartridges were scattered over the road, said police.
Pakkhaphol Namwongsa, 7, the son of the driver, sustained serious wounds from bullets that struck his back. The boy was rushed to Nang Rong Hospital and then transferred to Buriram Hospital, where his condition was said to be critical.
Sombat Namwongsa, 47, the driver and father of the injured boy, told police that he worked at the temple, where the pickup truck was kept for the abbot’s use.
Mr Namwongsa said he had taken the truck out to be washed and was returning to the temple with his two sons, aged 5 and 7, when a man, aged around 35-40 came alongside the pickup on a motorcycle.
The man suddenly cut in front of the truck and shouted “Why are you flirting with my girlfriend?” Then he started firing shots at the pickup, said Mr Namwongsa.
He tried in vain to appeal to the attacker that there were children inside, but the man ignored him and fired more shots before fleeing on his bike.
His eldest son was shot. Mr Namwongsa and his younger son were unhurt. He immediately drove off to seek help from residents living nearby and have his son taken to the nearest hospital.
The driver told police that he did not know the attacker and had never had an affair with another woman. He believed there might have been a misunderstanding.
Police said they had obtained the identity of the suspect, a 37-year-old former drug inmate named Tu, who was released from jail a few months ago. They are still searching for him.