Thai police to get mental health check after fatal standoff

BANGKOK (AP) — Police in Thailand will be subject to random checks of their physical and mental health, officials said Thursday, after a 27-hour standoff in which a senior officer holed up and fired into the air until it was not submitted by fellow officers.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Kitikarn Sangbun died in a hospital Wednesday night of multiple gunshot wounds sustained during the standoff at his home on the edge of the capital Bangkok, said Police Colonel Rangsan Sornsing, superintendent of the station police station in the Sai Mai district where the standoff occurred.

Kitikarn had been suffering from mental health issues and stress in his work and personal life, police said, without elaborating.

Thai media reported that the Inspector General’s Office of Police ordered random health checks on officers nationwide to avoid similar situations. Members of the public are also encouraged to report instances where they are concerned about the mental health of officers.

Kitikarn was holed up in his home on Tuesday when fellow officers came to pick him up for psychiatric treatment, Deputy National Police Chief General Torsak Sukvimol and other officials said. He fired into the air and in the direction of the police who arrived at the scene.

Police evacuated and cordoned off the surrounding area as they tried different methods to arrest him. In addition to initially using tear gas and stun guns in an attempt to evacuate him, a young officer sang to Kitikarn in an attempt to calm him down, intermittently asking him to turn himself in.

But as the fighting intensified, Kitikarn and the besieging officers exchanged blows.

Video of the end of the confrontation released by police showed Kitikarn, clad in shorts and a T-shirt and clutching a carving knife in his left hand, smashing through a second-story window and leaping down into a small messy courtyard. He was stunned for several seconds until police in full tactical gear rushed out the back door of the house, grabbing him violently.

Torsak said an autopsy performed Thursday showed Kitikarn had suffered six gunshot wounds and died of blood loss.

Torsak and other senior police officers expressed regret that the situation had turned deadly, saying police only used live ammunition after running out of other means to bring the situation under control.

Thailand’s deadliest massacre occurred in October, when a former police officer shot and fatally shot 36 people at a day care centre. The country’s previous worst mass murder involved a disgruntled soldier who opened fire in and around a shopping mall in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima in 2020, killing 29 and keeping security forces at bay for about 16 hours. hours before he was ultimately killed by them.

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