A Kentucky man broke out of a Thai court, sparked a three-day manhunt, then shot himself in the head, police say

Pattaya, Thailand (CNN)An American man is in a coma in Thailand after dramatically breaking free of police custody and then shooting himself in the head as police closed in on him and his girlfriend, according to authorities.

On Monday, Bart Allen Helmus, 39, from Kentucky and his Thai girlfriend Sirinapa Wisetrit, 30, were in court in the city of Pattaya accused of trafficking 1 kilogram (35 ounces) of methamphetamine and carrying a gun, Thai police said at a press conference on Thursday. In Thailand, trafficking serious drugs -- such as heroin and methamphetamine -- can carry a sentence of life imprisonment or death.
The pair managed to escape from the court using a knife and a gun provided by a third man, who was in court on unrelated drugs charges, the commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, Chakthip Chaijinda, said. During the escape, Helmus allegedly stabbed a court official who is being treated for serious injuries.
    The pair and the third man, 40-year-old Thai national Ton Ninthet, then fled in a getaway car, according to police. The couple were planning to escape to neighboring Cambodia, over 200 kilometers (124 miles) away, police said.
    Following the escape, Thai police launched a three-day manhunt and issued an arrest warrant for the couple and Ninthet.
    Thai police search for fugitives Bart Allen Helmus and Sirinapa Wisetrit on November 6, 2019 in Sa Kaeo province, after the pair escaped from court.