NATHON PATHOM: A gang of teenage thugs picked the wrong guy to attack and rob in the early hours of October 21. Their intended victim turned out to be an off-duty police officer with a loaded pistol. At 3:30 am, the four gang members were riding their motorbikes slowly along Rajamankha Rd in Nakhon Pathom municipality, waiting for a victim to pounce on. From behind them, on a motorcycle, approached unsuspecting off-duty police officer Pol Sgt Wanlop Thongkong, 28. As he tried to pass the youths, they cut in front of him, forcing him to slow down. One youth stuck a length of bamboo pole through the spokes of his motorcycle, sending bike and rider crashing to the pavement. “After this they parked their motorcycles and ran right at me,” said the officer. “They smashed a beer bottle over my head and stomped all over me. After that, they found my wallet and took all my money. “But as they were trying to steal my motorbike too, I pulled out my gun and started firing. I just kept blasting away until all six bullets had been fired. Then I phoned in for help,” said Sgt Wanlop. When fellow police officers arrived, they found Sgt Wanlop sitting dazed by the side of the road, blood gushing from the wound to his head. Around him were three motorcycles – his own and two others left there by his assailants, who fled in terror when the bullets started flying. Police rushed the fallen officer to Nakhon Pathom Hospital, leaving behind some officers at the scene of the crime. Some time later, one of the attackers – identified as 21-year-old Taweepol Pothinee – foolishly returned to collect his motorbike. He was immediately put under arrest. Then, while Sgt Wanlop was being taken to hospital, their vehicle passed 21-year-old Bangkok native Nasathon Visuksakon, who was standing in the middle of the road, pathetically waving for help. He had been shot in the leg. He was arrested, thrown into the vehicle, and taken along on the ride to hospital. When they reached the hospital, nurses there told police that another young man had just been admitted for treatment of a gunshot wound to the stomach. Sgt Wanlop then identified the young man, 20-year-old Acharayu Cheanarom, as another of his assailants. He was also arrested. Three down and one to go. Taweepol told investigators that he and his friends had been out drinking at a local pub when one of them came up with the bright idea of smashing somebody over the head “for fun”. It was only when Sgt Wanlop started pumping lead into the youths that they realized he was a police officer. Like most thugs, the teenagers were quick to rat out the fourth member of their posse, whom they knew only by his nickname, “Beer”. At the last report, police were still searching for him.