A Chinese man faces attempted murder and weapons charges after allegedly shooting two transnational-crime police trying to serve a search warrant at a house in Huay Yai suspected of being the headquarters of an online gambling operation.
The three charges against 35-year-old Yang Zhang, who holds a passport from the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis in the West Indies, are only the first of a long list of offenses likely to be levied as police continue to investigate the May 19 attack on police reminiscent of the finale of the movie “Scarface.”
Yang allegedly sprayed up to 40 rounds from a modified machine gun at officers as they climbed the steps to the third floor office where the Chinese man had barricaded himself after police arrived with the warrant around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Pol. Capt. Panthep Sriboonnak remains in critical condition after undergoing his second surgery for a gunshot to the stomach. He also sustained wounds to the shoulder and chest. Pol. Sr. Sgt. Maj. Kreeta Thipnet was shot in the leg and is expected to recover fully.
National police chief Maj. Gen. Suwat Jengyodsuk said Thursday afternoon that Provincial Police Region 2 transnational-crime officers were executing a warrant on the three-story luxury home near the Phoenix Golf Course in Huay Yai as they suspected an online gambling ring was being run from it.
Inside they detained eight Chinese and Cambodians working on computers, which were seized along with other property, including a Mercedes Benz and a silver Rolls-Royce parked in the garage.
Yang reportedly fled to the top floor and locked himself in his office. As police breached, he allegedly opened fire with one of two guns seized at the scene. Police later recovered riot shields, vests, barrier bags and other equipment.
The attorney for the suspects, Anirut Kongsap, on Thursday evening criticized police for not allowing him to speak to his clients, but said that, based on interviews with others at the scene, that there were several problems with the police’s case.
He alleged that the search warrant was not served properly, leading his clients to believed that unknown agents were trying to kidnap them and that they shot in self-defense.
He insisted the Chinese men were mere real estate agents who had worked in the Pattaya area for several years and that the house belonged to their property company.
Suwat dismissed the lawyers’ story, questioning why “property agents” would have body armor and bulletproof shields. He and other police officials separately stated that the warrant was legal and that police clearly identified themselves when they calmly knocked on the front door.