Australian Teacher Not The First Victim Of A Random Shooting In Downtown Chiang Mai, Thailand?
In July of 2011, a report surfaced of a random shooting in downtown Chiang Mai, involving a group of teachers from Australia. Lynda Cody from Melbourne suffered only minor head injuries as a result of shrapnel or broken glass, and received six stitches at a nearby hospital. Suwan Intarchit, a teacher at the Montford College had taken the two Australian women to Chiang Mai Night Bazaar where they were shopping for souvenirs. Just after leaving the Night Bazaar, their vehicle came under fire, shattering the windshield, causing the group to panic. The driver, Mr Intarchit said he saw a motorbike with a pair of youths that had appeared to fire the shots, however he said it happened so fast and he was more concerned with getting the injured woman to the hospital for treatment.
The incident went widely unreported in local Chiang Mai media, even prompting one local blogger to speculate that the shooting may have been a hoax? After a little investigation, it seems clear that this was no hoax, the reports in Chiang Rai Times include an eye-witness account from Khun Suwan, a teacher at Montford College for more than 24 years. The report also indicates that Mrs. Cody was treated at a local hospital (This is easy to verify). Local media would not get away with fabricating the shooting of a tourist in Thailand, a country that relies heavily on tourism.
This is also not the first random shooting of this kind, back in 2008, a Canadian doctor was shot in the back while riding in a song taew (tuk tuk). Dr. Erik Griffioen and his wife Elizabeth, also a doctor, were on their way to enjoy a day of trekking and river rafting, when Dr.Griffioen suddenly fell over after being shot in the back as the vehicle drove along Charoen Muang Road. This is the exact same area of town where Lynda Cody was shot, just a few blocks away. Dr Griffioen required immediate surgery to save his life, and thankfully he did survive.
While these incidents might not be related, it seems worth further investigation considering the similarities between the two cases. To the best of my knowledge none of the local media outlets, or the local authorities have drawn any link to these cases, as the previous shooting has not been mentioned in any newspaper reports or statements from local officials. Not that it would matter, it is unlikely that any investigation was ever conducted following either of these two cases.
These isolated incidents reflect poorly on the city of Chiang Mai, however it is important to remember that in Northern Thailand, this is the exception, and not the norm. While reports of violent crimes and mysterious murders are a weekly or even daily event in places like Pattaya and Phuket, this is actually very rare in Chiang Mai. I still believe that Chiang Mai is one of the safest cities in Thailand, and nobody should hesitate to visit after reading this story.