Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan is awaiting a police report on the incident before forming an opinion on what happened. The former boss of the immigration police, however, is said to be convinced that the shooting was an attack on his life.
Thai police are investigating a shooting incident on Monday night in which a luxury car driven by the former head of Thailand’s Immigration Bureau Lieutenant General Surachate Hapkarn was shot at eight times while he attended a business meeting in central Bangkok.
The former high profile immigration bureau chief who now works as an adviser at the Office of the Prime Minister, Police Lieutenant General Surachate Hapkarn also known affectionately by the public and police alike as ‘Big Joke’ was at the centre of a mystery last night after a car he was driving was the target of gunmen on a motorcycle.
Police have confirmed that eight shots in all were fired at the car which had been left parked by General Surachate while he attended a nearby business meeting in the Bang Rak area of Bangkok at between 8 pm and 9 pm last night.
Luxury white Lexus SUV parked in Bangrak
It is understood that the white car, a luxury Lexus model SUV, was owned by Lieutenant General Surachate’s wife Sririnadda Hakparn. The car was left parked near the Surwaning Sraika Co. When police examined the vehicle, they found seven bullets had been shot at the back door on the left-hand passenger side of the vehicle while one hit the front door at the same level.
A police report was filed in relation to the shooting to Bang Rak police station at approximately 9.30 pm last night.
Former top cop does not understand why he was targeted as he has no dispute with anyone
Police confirmed that Police Lieutenant General Surachate, one of Thailand’s most popular and high profile policemen, was not driving the car at the time.
After the shooting, it is reported that he was convinced that the attack was an attempt on his life. He told the media that while this was the case, he had no idea why someone would want to hurt him as he was not aware of any struggle or discord with a third party.
High profile policeman and newsmaker
The former high profile police boss was a daily feature of the news in Thailand up to April last year often featuring on multiple news stories in one day as he was linked with an aggressive campaign to root out scams, criminality and of course, enforce Thailand’s strict immigration laws.
The top cop was also often called in to deal with key investigations which were likely to generate strong media interest.
Seen as a protégé of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, his removal from his post last year remains a mystery and has never been clarified
His removal as head of the immigration bureau in April last year and subsequent transfer to the Office of the Prime Minister has never been fully elucidated upon by senior officials.
The senior officer was always thought of as protégé of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and he came to prominence during the tenure of the former junta administration which held power from 2014 to 2019.
On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit said that he was awaiting a police investigation into the incident and would be careful not to form an opinion of the nature of the gun attack until he had seen this.
Police investigation overseen at the highest level
The shooting is being fully investigated and the probe is being overseen by the police at the highest level.
Wirachai Songmetta, the deputy national police chief, told reporters that the bullets removed from the vehicle would be subject to forensic analysis.
Shooter knew how to use the weapon
Police have already formed the opinion that the person who fired the gun was well able to use the weapon and the motorcycle driver appeared to be at ease in the area.
It is reported that CCTV footage has identified two suspects on a black Honda Click motorbike with no plates at the scene when the car was shot at.
Both wore motorbike helmets that fully covered their faces.
Police have disclosed that Lieutenant General Surachate Hapkarn arrived at the location on Soi Sarika off the Surawongse road, at approximately 8 pm on Monday. He was there on personal business and driving his wife’s car.
CCTV footage shows the motorbike making its way through traffic after the shooting
Police at Bangrak police station have studied the CCTV footage and say that the motorbike with two riders drove around the car and then did a U-turn before leaving the scene.
They were tracked as they made their way on the Surawongse Road and later on to Rama IV road towards the Samya intersection.
Police interview Lieutenant General Surachate
Police are believed to have met Lieutenant General Surachate at noon on Wednesday to discuss the incident. While police are relieved that no one was hurt, they feel the shooting, which occurred in a tourist area, is something that cannot be tolerated.