American prison escapee shoots self and wife during recapture in Thailand

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An injured man, believed to be Bart Allen Helmus, is taken to hospital after he allegedly shot himself and his wife as police moved in to arrest them in Sa Kaeo province on Wednesday. Bangkok Post / Royal Thai Police

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) – An American prison escapee allegedly shot and wounded himself and his wife in Sa Kaeo province on Wednesday as police moved in and arrested them and another fugitive who fled Pattaya Court on Monday.

The fugitive trio’s capture culminated a massive police manhunt launched after they escaped in chains the court, leaving a critically wounded police officer in their wake.

Satawat Hirunburana, assistant to the national police chief, said one of the escapees, Noi Nilthes, had contacted police through his relatives and said he wanted to surrender, according to Jor Sor 100 radio.

He came out of hiding and gave himself up at a sugarcane plantation near the junction of Watthana Nakhon and Khao Chakhan districts in Sa Kaeo province.

Police later surrounded an area about one kilometre from where Mr Noi surrendered, intending to arrest the other two escapees, US national Bart Allen Helmus and his Thai wife Sirinapa Wisetrit.

Pol Lt Gen Satawat said Mr Helmus was under stress because of the hot weather and the three-month pregnancy of his wife. As police moved in, Mr Helmus used a pistol to shoot his wife and himself, he said.

Pol Lt Gen Satawat said police did not fire any shots at the couple during the operation to arrest them.

Mrs Sirinapa was reported wounded. Mr Helmus was said to be in a critical condition in the ICU of Sakaeo Crown Prince Hospital in Sa Kaeo’s Muang district.

The three escapees, who were facing trial on drug trafficking charges when they made their getaway, will be interrogated in Sa Kaeo before being taken back to Pattaya.

They fled the court in chains on Monday, severely wounding Pol Capt Thanamet Photipan as they dashed to short-lived freedom. An investigation is underway into how they obtained a handgun and knife used in the escape.

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