A young man accidentally killed his friend with an ink pen in Phnom Penh on Thursday evening, according to police.
The pen, however, was no ordinary writing device, but a small-caliber firearm disguised as such —and loaded with a single deadly round.
Thy Theang, 21, and Som Sna, 26, both employees of a tile shop on Street 2004 in Sen Sok district, found the pen in a roadside trash pile near their workplace at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, according to district police chief Mok Hong.
Mr. Hong said the pen had been wedged inside a wallet the men had plucked from the garbage, curious about its contents.
Thy Theang tested it on a piece of paper and found that it wrote normally before Mr. Sna snatched it away, twirling it in his fingers and wondering at its unusual heft, he said.
Mr. Sna clicked the end a few times, extending and retracting the nib, then pushed a second button on the side of the pen.
“When the suspect pushed the button, the pen was pointing at his friend and it exploded and a bullet hit the victim in the chest,” Mr. Hong said. “It was an accident.”
The round lodged near Thy Theang’s heart, the police chief said, adding that Mr. Sna and the owner of the tile shop rushed him to the Preah Kossamak Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The police chief said that, at the hospital, Mr. Sna told officers Thy Theang had been holding the pen at the time of the incident, shooting himself.
But when investigators called Mr. Sna to the district police station for further questioning on Friday afternoon, he said, the man admitted to discharging the peculiar weapon and was arrested on the spot.
“The suspect confessed to killing his friend by accident. He didn’t know it was a bullet pen,” said Eng Sorphea, chief of the municipal police’s penal bureau. “If he knew it was a bullet pen, he might not have played with it.
Mr. Sorphea said he had seen such a pen once before, 3 or 4 years ago.
“It belonged to my friend,” he said, admitting that his friend was a fellow police officer and that such firearms were illegal in Cambodia.
Mr. Hong said police were attempting to find the pen’s owner, and had a solid lead—a soldier’s ID card found in the discarded wallet—but declined to discuss the investigation in more detail.
He said Mr. Sna would be sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court this weekend for questioning.