By Nash Jenkins
August 11, 2015

A tattoo artist who told his customers his work would protect them from harm was fatally gunned down in southern Thailand early Monday morning, a local media outlet reported.

Authorities said that the victim, 40-year-old Khachon Cherdchoo, was a celebrated local practitioner of sak yant, a Southeast Asian custom that ascribes spiritual power to body art.

“He has many disciples and followers,” local police colonel Chalaermwuth Wongwiangchan said. “He has traveled to apply the yant to many celebrities around the country and has also traveled [to meet his customers] abroad.”

Local media reports that the perpetrator shot the artist four times as he walked home in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Police have arrested three men on suspicion of involvement with the crime, but the assailant remains at large.

What prompted the murder remains unknown, though police said that Khachon had a “dispute” with others in his community.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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