The so-called "popcorn gunman" yesterday confessed that he worked as a People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) guard and was one of the gunmen involved in the Lak Si shooting incident a day before the February 2 election.
Wiwat Yodprasit, 24, told the press he was paid Bt300 a day to provide security for PDRC protesters at the Chaeng Wattana rally site.
He said he worked under a chief guard called Sumet, who went by the alias Men, and claimed it was Sumet who gave him the M16 rifle he used that day.
Wiwat said he fired at least 20 bullets and concealed the gun in a corn bag to collect spent bullet shells.
He said after the incident he hid by mingling among protesters before moving to live in the house of Sumet’s wife in Surat Thani. He said he had not been trained on how to use the rifle, and did not know where it came from.
Police have yet to find the M16 Wiwat used.
Caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, who also oversees the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), interrogated Wiwat at the press conference.
Police tracked Wiwat down after learning he had developed a close relationship with a woman who often showed up to participate in the PDRC rally.
Police traced the woman and followed her to Surat Thani. Wiwat and the woman were travelling together to a temple in Surat Thani when he was arrested. Wiwat is also wanted on drug charges by police at Nakhon Thai Police Station in Pitsanulok.
The Criminal Court has granted police the right to detain Wiwat for further questioning.
The police has objected to a bail request for Wiwat on grounds that he allegedly committed serious offences. So far, nobody has come forward to offer bail for him.
Meanwhile, PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said he believes police might have arrested a scapegoat to defame the PDRC, adding that Wiwat’s confession was suspicious.
In the confession, Wiwat said he had never used an M16 rifle prior to that day, yet video clips shared on social media indicate he was well trained in using the weapon.
Akanat said PDRC guards were paid Bt500 a day, not Bt300.
The anti-government protest leader has also urged Bangkok police chief Lt-General Camronwit Toopgrajank to arrest assailants who launched bomb attacks at the Victory Monument and the gunman who shot dead Sutin Taratin, the PDRC leader in Bangkok’s Bang Na district.