British man killed at countdown party
- Published: 1/01/2013 at 07:42 PM
- Online news:
SURAT THANI - A 23-year-old British tourist was killed by a stray bullet during a fight involving a group of Thai men in a bar at Koh Phangan's Haad Rin Beach early in the morning of New Year's day.
Stephen Ashton was with a group of friends and 300 other tourists at the 2013 countdown party at a pub and restaurant named Zoom Bar when he was shot by a home-made gun shortly after 4am, Pol Col Kittakarn Kramomthong, chief of Koh Phangan station said.
According to witnesses who spoke to police investigators, two groups of Thai customers numbering between five and seven got into an argument which escalated into a fistfight in the crowded bar. One of the groups ran out of the bar and one man turned and fired a shot back into the bar, causing panic and chaos.
The bullet hit Ashton in the torso, seriously injuring him. He was sent to Ban Don International Hospital and was later pronounded dead.
Ashton was visiting the island with four or five friends and had stayed at Pink Bungalow on Haad Rin.
Police launched a search for a 26-year-old man identified as Ekkapan Kaewkla, or Lae Kaewkla.
About noon, a team of police led by Pol Col Kittakarn searched for the suspect who was thought to have gone into hiding up in the mountains and arrested him in tambon Ban Tai. Mr Ekkapan was found with a home-made gun believed to have been used in the shooting.
Mr Ekkapan denied he fired the shot that killed Ashton but admitted he had fought with another group of men when partying at Zoom Bar.
Pol Col Kittakarn said police had several witnesses and enough evidence to prosecute the suspect. Royal Thai Police adviser, Pol Gen Rachata Yensuang, Pol Lt Gen Kittisan Dejsoonthornwat, the Provincial Police Region 8 deputy commissioner, and Surat Thani provincial police chief Kiattipong Khaosum-ang will interrogate the suspect at Khao Phangan station at noon on Wednesday, he added.
Photos by Supapong Chaolan
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- Writer: Supapong Chaolan