Police set up road blocks and questioned drivers in Pattaya, Thailand, in the early hours of Tuesday (November 5) as they hunt for an American who escaped from prison hours before following a gunfight in which an officer was stabbed.
Bart Allen Helmus, 39, appeared in court in Pattaya, Thailand, on Monday (November 4) with his Thai girlfriend Sirinapha Wisetrit, 31, after they were arrested in July for alleged drug dealing.
They arrived at the trial but shortly before 3.30pm, the pair were inside the building with a third prisoner, Noi Ton Nintet, 41, when several gun shots were heard and a fight erupted with guards.
One officer was allegedly fired at and suffered a stab wound.
The trio then fled into a waiting bronze Isuzu pickup truck.
The injured policeman, Captain Thanameth Potiphan, was rushed to hospital and is in critical condition.
Police described the fugitives as ''extremely dangerous'' and set up checkpoints and roadblocks in the area.
Lieutenant General Nanthachart Supamongkhol said the U.S. Embassy had been contacted and all border points were on alert.
He added: ''The three prisoners who escaped were all in chains at the time.
We are investigating how they had weapons with them.
''Officers are checking CCTV to trace the escape route and find the fugitives.'' Police said the group were being transferred from a nearby prison to appear in court when they were being held in an area surrounded by metal bars behind the court building.
Witnesses said there was one gun shot heard from outside the building which sparked panic from guards, who ran towards a vehicle.
But while they were chasing the car, a scuffle erupted with the prisoners inside and three more shots were fired before an officer was stabbed.
The group fled through an unguarded door into the vehicle.
The injured officer was found with a silver knife in the left side of his body after being stabbed.
Police now believe that the fugitives are being helped to lay low in a remote area, before fleeing through one of the country's notoriously porous borders.
Arrest warrants have been issued for attempted murder of a policeman, escaping while being in custody, threatening others with guns, illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, carrying a gun in public without reason and shooting in public without reason.
Lieutenant General Nanthachart added: ''The fugitives are extremely dangerous and should not be approached by members of the public.
''We cannot determine how the prisoners received a 9mm pistol but if we find any accomplices they will be punished severely.'' Police arrested the couple in July this year after raiding their apartment where they allegedly found 1kg of crystal methamphetamine, a pistol with 200 bullets, scales, plastic bags and 205,000 Baht (6650 USD).
Helmus allegedly ordered the drugs from the 'dark web' before selling them to customers around the Thai 'Sin City' resort.