BANGKOK, Thailand – Thai police are searching for a gunman who shot and killed two soccer fans at a beach resort after complaining they were cheering too loudly during a broadcast of Italy's World Cup opener against Ghana, officials said Wednesday.
The two men, both Thais, were watching Italy's 2-0 win over Ghana at a restaurant Monday at the Thai beach resort town of Pattaya, and erupted in roars when Italy scored its first goal, said Panipha Wattakul, a girlfriend of one of the victims.
A man seated at a nearby table asked them to quiet down, prompting a heated argument during which the man pulled out a handgun and shot the soccer fans at point blank range, said Police Col. Somnuek Chanket, the Pattaya police chief. The victims were identified as Chamlong Rongsaeng, 30, and Somnuek Sonkun, 41.
Police know the identity of the gunman, who fled after the shooting, Somnuek said.
Thailand has never competed in the World Cup. But despite the Southeast Asian nation's poor showing on the international soccer stage, millions of fans are glued to their televisions during the World Cup and millions of baht (dollars) are spent on illegal betting, polls show.
Pattaya, about 70 miles southeast of Bangkok, is known for its beaches, its thriving sex industry and high crime rate.