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Crime

Thai man guns down six family members, including his children at New Year party

  • Police said he was ‘heavily’ drunk when he pulled out his pistol and angry because he felt unwelcomed
  • The shooter then turned the gun on himself
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 11:57am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 8:20pm

A Thai man who felt slighted by his in-laws shot dead six family members including his two young children at a New Year’s Eve party before turning the gun on himself, police said on Tuesday.

The mass shooting took place 10 minutes after midnight as Sucheep Sornsung joined his wife’s family to ring in the New Year in the southern province of Chumphon.

Sucheep was “heavily” drunk when he pulled out his pistol at the table in the beauty parlour where the party was being hosted in Phato district, police said.

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“All of the victims were his family members including his nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter,” said Lieutenant Colonel Larp Kampapan of Phato police.

“They were shot either in the head or the torso … he was angry that as the son-in-law, he was not being made welcome by his wife’s family.”

The gunman then turned the weapon on himself.

The other four victims were two men and two women aged between 47 and 71.

Tinnakorn Onmuk, Sucheep’s brother-in-law who was shot in the abdomen but survived told local newspaper Khaosod: “During the countdown, we were having fun in front of the house, and … he came into the house drunk.”

He recalled Sucheep shouting “I’m already here. You are not having fun yet, let me help” before he pulled out his gun and shot the family.

Thailand has high rates of gun ownership and petty personal disputes, romantic and business rivalries are often resolved with bullets.

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According to Thai law, anyone who wants to own a gun must obtain a licence – a service regulated by the Ministry of Interior. Civilians have to justify their reasons for needing the firearm and provide background information, such as criminal records and proof of occupation. It is unclear if Sucheep’s gun was registered.

In Thailand, there are around 6 million legally registered firearms and about 4.1 million illegally held, according to Gunpolice.org, a website hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health. And despite the fact Thailand is a country with “relatively low levels of lethal violence”, the impact of firearm violence is “disproportionately large”.

About 50 per cent of the lethal violence incidents in the country in 2016 were firearm-related, according to a paper published by Small Arms Survey, a project of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 2017, the government amended a 1949 law that banned foreigners from owning firearms and also expanded regulation to include gun accessories or related products, such as silencers, electric darts and new types of fireworks.