Police named the son of Senate President Chea Sim as the gunman in a Sunday morning shooting at a Sihanoukville nightclub, which critically injured a man identified as a relative of retired King Norodom Sihanouk.
Chea Sim’s son Chea Tha, 33, and the victim, whom police named only as Michel, were drinking with about four other friends at the Blue Storm nightclub in Sihanoukville’s Mittapheap district, when Chea Tha allegedly pulled out a pistol and accidentally shot his companion, police said.
“They are close friends. But at that time, Chea Sim’s son, Chea Tha, accidentally shot his gun and hit Michel’s arm and stomach,” Sihanoukville’s Deputy military police Chief Tak Vantha said Sunday.
The shooting occurred around 1 am at the nightclub located in the center of town, Mittapheap district police Chief Prum Sakhon said.
Michel, whom police said is a nephew of Norodom Sihanouk but could not elaborate on his royal lineage, was rushed to a local clinic. He remained there for nearly two hours and was then taken to Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital.
“This case is a big case,” Kol Phally, penal police chief for Mittapheap district, said Sunday. He said police found a single bullet at the scene of the shooting but referred all other questions to his superiors.
Tak Vantha downplayed the incident Sunday. He said police finished their investigation into the incident by Sunday afternoon. No arrests were made.
“This case is not a big deal,” Tak Vantha said.
Chea Son, Cabinet chief to Senate and CPP President Chea Sim, confirmed Chea Tha’s involvement in the Sunday shooting.
He said Chea Tha and Michel were very close friends and concurred with police that the shooting was not prompted by any dispute.
“They are like brothers. They went everywhere together,” Chea Son said. He described Michel as a god-son to Chea Sim but would not reveal his last name.
“[The victim] is okay,” he said, adding that Chea Tha and the others in the group did not try to flee after the shooting. “They did not escape. They took [the victim] to the hospital.”
Police, however, said Michel was in critical condition.
A doctor at Calmette Hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the victim “is now in the operation room with good-quality doctors.”
He said Michel is 33-years-old but declined to give further details.
“We are afraid to ask for the information from the victim,” the doctor said.
Attempts to reach the Blue Storm nightclub were unsuccessful Sunday.