Police: ‘Rich Kids’ Shooting Kills 1, Injures 2

Police are searching for the young owner of a black Lexus SUV who opened fire on a crowd of people sitting at a food stall in front of the Royal Palace early Thursday morning, killing one woman and in­juring two others.

The suspect, a 25-year-old who police have identified, escaped on foot after the shooting, which was apparently prompted when the young man’s luxury car was damaged by a group of other young men, according to a police report provided by Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district police chief, Yim Socheat.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth described the shooter and those who damaged his car as armed “rich kids” who need to be reined in by authorities.

Street vendors who witnessed the shooting said Thursday that the shooter pulled up in a Lexus at about 1 am and parked near a cluster of food stalls between Sothearos Boulevard and Sisowath Quay. He then went to use the bathroom nearby, at which time three other vehicles—a Toyota Camry, a Tico and a Honda CRV—drove up. The vendors, who declined to be nam­ed, saw seven people get out of the three cars and begin yelling for the owner of the Lexus and hitting the back of his car. A few moments lat­er, the suspect returned to find his car damaged and the back window shattered.

Angered by the attack on his car, the suspect produced a gun and opened fire on a small crowd of people eating nearby, witnesses said, adding that afterwards he frantically searched around for his car keys but then ran away on foot when he couldn’t find them.

Suon Chanthoeun, a 21-year-old waitress who had come to eat with friends after her shift ended at The Rock nightclub Wednesday night, was hit in the back of her right shoulder by the gunfire, the police report stated. She died instantly, according to eyewitnesses.

Suon Chanthoeun’s friend and fellow waitress at The Rock, 22-year-old Kheng Kunthea was hit on the left side of her torso and is being treated at Calmette Hospital. Kheng Kunthea’s boyfriend, Dy Na, 25, a waiter at Reatrey 7 Colors restaurant, is also being treated for a gunshot wound to his torso at Visal Sok clinic in Phnom Penh, according to police.

Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said by telephone that police are searching for the suspect, who abandoned his SUV at the scene, as well as the owners of the three other cars.

“The group were rich kids, but they are not high-ranking government officials’ kids,” Touch Naruth said.

“Nowadays, there are many rich kids using illegal weapons. So, we need to conduct reform to strongly punish the use of illegal weapons,” he said.

Suon Chanthoeun was cremated Thursday afternoon at Wat Ounalom, where she was mourned by her father, 47-year-old Suon Dara, who works hauling cement at the Phnom Penh railway station, and her mother, 42-year-old Moa Ren, as well as her two siblings.

Her youngest brother led the funeral procession wearing a white sheet of mourning over his head and clutching a gold-framed image of his sister.

Her uncle, 51-year-old Suon Saravy, made a plea to the authorities to find and punish the perpetrator.

“I appealed to the authorities to find the gunman,” he said.


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