The fatal shooting of the son of Chart Thai Pattana MP Chada Thaiseth in Nakhon Ratchasima on Monday may be a case of road rage rather than mistaken identity, police said yesterday.
“The two vehicles took turns passing each other, triggering an exchange of gunfire,” Lt-General Panu Kerdlarppol, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 3, said.
Panu played down speculation that the intended target was the victim Farut’s father.
Police found spent bullet cartridges on both sides of the road as well as inside Farut’s pickup. Several 9mm cartridges and bullets that killed Farut were lodged inside the pickup.
Some cartridges were also found in the pickup that matched bullets on the other side of the road. A 38-calibre pistol found in the victim’s pickup had been used but it has yet to be established how fired the gun. How the gunfight started was also unclear.
The two hypotheses of political disputes and business feuds could not be ruled out, although evidence seems to point to road rage. Information about the other pickup and the way it was driven away from the scene suggests there were two attackers and they might be locals, he added.
Police spokesman Maj-General Piya Uthayo said investigators were pursuing all leads and provincial police were collecting forensic evidence before drawing a conclusion.
“The investigation will start off with evidence about the two vehicles trying to pass each other,” he said.
Chada, an MP from Uthai Thani, said he drove the pickup with his family to a place to meet friends, who were due to join them at a Khao Yai resort.
Before returning to the resort with the new arrivals, he switched to drive his friend’s sedan, leaving his son with the pickup. At the start of the trip back, the road was empty, then the other pickup appeared out of nowhere and tailed the two vehicles before overtaking them.
Later the other pickup drove on the return side of the road with its lights off. After it passed him, he noticed that his son seemed to have dropped back, so he turned around to see what happened.
He witnessed the gunfight because his sedan also came under fire, as if to discourage him from checking the scene.
The MP took his son to a hospital but could not save him. At first, he thought the men were after him but then they attacked the pickup despite seeing him driving the sedan.
Police should solve the case as soon as possible to preserve the reputation of the area, which is a tourist destination. He thought they should have little trouble identifying the other pickup as it was modified for racing.
The MP claimed he had no idea about a motive for the incident because he was not involved in a dispute or conflict. Farut was poised to run in a local election but had not announced his candidacy.
The MP said he was ready to give a statement to police, despite disappointment that a plainclothed officer who questioned him at the hospital on the night of his son’s death appeared drunk.