An American drug dealer facing the death penalty shot his pregnant Thai wife and himself in the temple when they were cornered by Thai police a day after making their escape.
The suspects, identified as Noi Nilthes, 40-year-old American national Bart Allen Helmus and his wife Sirinapa Wisetrit, were all facing charges that carried a maximum death sentence, according to Bangkok Post.
Noi, Sirinapa and Helmus were among the 14 inmates in custody at the Special Prison at Nong Pla Lai in Bang Lamung district, who were being transported to court to face trial on Monday.
After arriving at the court, shouting was heard inside the holding area followed by gunshots. Court of Justice spokesman Suriyan Hongwilai said Noi shot Police Captain Thanamet Photipan, who was also stabbed by Helmus. Thanamet is reportedly in critical condition at the local hospital.
The three shackled suspects made their way to the back of the court’s car park and fired a shot in the air before getting into a white Isuzu pick-up truck. The suspects sped off along the Thep Prasit Road.
The U.S. Embassy was contacted about the incident and border points were put on alert, said Lieutenant General Nanthachart Supamongkhol, Daily Mail reported.
“The three prisoners who escaped were all in chains at the time. We are investigating how they had weapons with them. Officers are checking CCTV to trace the escape route and find the fugitives.”
Authorities were able to locate the pick-up truck they used on Tuesday, Associated Press reported. After receiving a tip, police tracked down Helmus and the other suspects to a village in Sa Kaeo province, which is 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the Cambodian border.
Noi, along with his girlfriend who assisted the group in their escape, gave themselves up as police approach the group. Helmus, however, held his wife hostage during the encounter.
The American suspect reportedly shot his wife before shooting himself in his right temple. The woman suffered less serious injuries, while Helmus remains in critical condition.
Helmus and his wife were arrested in July during a sting operation where an undercover agent bought 10 grams of crystal methamphetamine from the dealers. Authorities confiscated a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of drugs from the two along with a gun, 200 bullets, and 205,500 Thai Baht ($6,800) in cash.
Feature Image via เรื่องเล่าเช้านี้ บีอีซี-เทโร