Journalist shooter surrenders, victim in critical condition

Police recover the weapon used in the shooting of a local journalist in Pattaya. The suspect, Kwanchai Pantong, alias “Pek,” is seen in the background after surrendering to the authorities.

PATTAYA, Thailand – A man wanted for the shooting of a local journalist in Pattaya on December 13, has turned himself in to the police, while the victim remains in critical condition at Chonburi Hospital.

The suspect, identified as Kwanchai Pantong, alias “Pek,” 32, was arrested on Wednesday night after he voluntarily surrendered at the Banglamung Police Station. He faces charges of attempted murder and violations of firearm laws.

According to the police, Kwanchai confessed to shooting Nattapat Boonchalee, a 28-year-old reporter for “Athip Burapha” newspaper and online media, outside an entertainment venue on Petchrakul Road intersecting Pattaya Third Road. He claimed that he acted in self-defense after Nattapat provoked him with verbal insults.

The police said that Kwanchai led them to the location where he had dumped the weapon used in the incident, a short-barreled, Thai-made shotgun with one round. The firearm was recovered from a grassy area near the railroad tracks in Nong Pla Lai Subdistrict.

Nattapat’s father, posted a plea for blood donations on his private Facebook account, seeking blood type A. (Photo: Nattapat Boonchalee)

Nattapat suffered serious injuries from the shooting, with over 40 shotgun pellets lodged in his cheek area and permanent damage to his left eye. He was rushed to Chonburi Hospital, where he underwent surgery and received blood transfusions. His father, Athipbodi, posted a plea for blood donations on his private Facebook account, seeking blood type A.

The motive behind the shooting is still unclear, as the police are investigating the relationship between the suspect and the victim. The police said that two friends who were with Kwanchai during the incident are being questioned as witnesses. They denied any involvement in the shooting and said they were unaware of Kwanchai’s plan.

The police said that they are collecting all the evidence, including CCTV footage, eyewitness accounts, and forensic results, to build a strong case against the suspect. They said that Kwanchai will be transferred to the Pattaya Provincial Court for further legal proceedings once the interrogation is completed.

The shooting has sparked outrage among the media community and the public, who condemned the attack as a threat to press freedom and public safety. The Thai Journalists Association issued a statement demanding justice for Nattapat and urging the authorities to ensure the safety of journalists.