A major in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Saturday night after he accidentally shot a 12-year-old boy in a drunken attempt to “clean the barrel of his gun” with a live round, officials said Sunday.
Pol Ponleu, 43, a member of RCAF’s Brigade 70, had been drinking heavily on Saturday and was waiting for pork outside a butcher in Trapaing Krasaing commune at about 6:45 p.m., when he fired his revolver into the ground, according to commune chief Sim Phoun.
“The man was drunk and he shot once into the ground,” he said. “Then he panicked and tried to escape on his motorbike but our security forces from the village chased him and stopped him about 4 km from the scene.”
Mr. Phoun said the bullet from the major’s gun ricocheted off the ground and entered the right thigh of Tol Chantha, who had been buying a bag of ice from a vendor next door to the butcher.
“We sent the boy to a clinic in Choam Chao commune immediately, then he was transferred to the National Pediatric Hospital for surgery,” he said, adding that Mr. Ponleu was sent to the district police station for questioning.
District police chief Yim Saran said the suspect told officers that he discharged his revolver because he wanted to clear the barrel of debris.
“He told us that he pulled the gun from his hip and shot once into the ground to clean the barrel of his gun,” he said.
“We asked some eyewitnesses and they told us that a man was drunk and had not argued with anyone before the shooting,” he said, adding that the suspect would be sent to the municipal court on Monday.
Sitting next to her sleeping son at the National Pediatric Hospital on Sunday, Soeu Sophea, 36, said she had no reason to believe the soldier meant to shoot her son.
“I filed a complaint with commune police today to demand compensation,” she said, adding that she had already spent about $600 on medical expenses to treat her son’s injury.