Legal aide who disarmed cop to kill Thai courtroom shooter taken into custody

Thanakorn Theerawaradom in the center in white. Photo: Police News
Thanakorn Theerawaradom in the center in white. Photo: Police News

More details have emerged about yesterday’s mass shooting in a Thai courtroom, including the nature of the dispute and the arrest of the man who disarmed a police officer to shoot and kill the gunman.

Thanakorn Theerawaradom, a legal aide, was arrested Wednesday morning for reportedly removing the gun from the holster of an officer who froze up when violence broke out and then using it to fire six rounds into the retired police officer who turned the courtroom into a bloodbath.

“We’ve detained Thanakorn Theerawarodom this morning and charged him with deliberately killing others. Officers are now interrogating him. He will now have to go through the legal process,” national police spokesman Col. Krissana Phatthanacharoen told Coconuts Bangkok this morning. 

Thai court shooter dies; police say opposing counsel was also armed

It was another twist in the aftermath of 67-year-old Tanin Jantarahip’s courtroom shooting that left three people dead, including Tanin, and sent two others to the ICU with gunshot wounds.

Krissana added that police are currently investigating how Tanin sneaked a gun into the courtroom.

Tanin opened fire on the opposing counsel and plaintiffs just after 9am on Tuesday inside the Chanthaburi Provincial Court, where they had arrived to hear the latest ruling in their long-running legal battle. The judges had not yet arrived in the courtroom when a reported verbal argument between the two parties escalated into Tanin suddenly opening fire with an automatic pistol with a collapsible stock.

The courtroom after the shooting. Photo: @happykaekamon / Twitter
The courtroom after the shooting. Photo: @happykaekamon / Twitter

After the shooting started, a courtroom police officer sprinted into the courtroom but froze, according to an Amarin TV report. That’s when Thanakorn, an aide to the plaintiff’s legal team, grabbed his gun and opened fire.

The dead included plaintiff Bancha Parameesanaporn, a famous lawyer who counted a former prime minister among his clients. Bancha had been locked in a legal dispute over a large plot of land with about THB300 million (US$10 million)

Mass shooting in Thai courtroom kills 2 as retired cop opens fire on opposing counsel

Tanin’s Khemjira Bantoonnipit told Amarin TV  that the land was supposed to be sold to a temple but due to issues with the transaction was returned to the owner. Tanin is said to have been fighting for control of the land to develop it for charity and religious purposes. 

“He’s very stressed because they’ve been fighting over the land for over eight years. … I think something was pressuring him because this is not like him. He’s a very kind hearted man, he loves justice. Something must have really pushed him to do this,” Khemjira told reporters. 

Also killed was one of Bancha’s lawyers, identified as Wijai Sookrom. Shot and left in critical condition were Bancha’s wife, Supaporn Parameesanaporn, and Wichai Udomthanaphat, another attorney representing Bancha.

The proliferation of guns and thin pride in Thailand all too frequently prove deadly.

“He once told me about the land disputes, [saying] that if he gave in, it would mean he has no dignity. He’s a cop you know? He was fighting for what is right,” Khemjira added.  

Early last month a Thai judge in the insurgency-battered south shot himself in the chest in front of a packed court after acquitting several murder suspects and decrying the judicial system in an impassioned speech.

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