In January we reported on a remarkable story out of Arizona in which a concealed carry used his sidearm to save a police officer, who had been shot and was being beaten to death in the middle of a highway. https://www.range365.com/troopers-savior-former-felon-with-reinstated-gun-rights
Now, the officer has spoken out about the ordeal, the man who saved him, and the friendship that grew from one terrible night.
“A half-inch to my right it would have missed me. A few inches to my left, it would have hit my vest,” but it didn’t. The bullet fired from former Mexican federale Leonard Penuelas-Escobar’s gun hit State Trooper Ed Andersson in the right shoulder, paralyzing his arm and preventing him from reaching his sidearm, according to fox8.com.
It all began when Andersson responded to reports of a man firing a gun at cars at 4:30 a.m. on a dark and desolate strip of I-10 near Tonopah.
He arrived to see an overturned vehicle just off the roadway and a female passenger who appeared to have been thrown from the vehicle.
“I saw a male subject kneeling and holding a female in his arms,” Andersson said in this CNN story.
The trooper proceeded to block the slow lane with his cruiser, set out flares, and radioed for a medical helicopter, the story says. When he returned to the accident scene, the man was missing.
“I scan with my flashlight and I found him standing in the emergency lane,” Andersson said. “I could tell he already had his weapon pointed at me.”
The man turned out to be the one who had allegedly been firing shots at passing motorists. He had one round left, and that was the round that found Andersson’s shoulder.
Out of ammo, the suspect charged the Trooper, taking him to the ground. Despite his injuries, Andersson was able to fight his attacker, keeping him from getting to his pistol by rolling on his right side.
“I knew if he got my gun it’d be all over right then,” he said in the story.
“I would try to get my Taser out, but every time I would do that, he would strike me in the head, and pound my head on the pavement,” Andersson said in the story. “I kicked him into the fast lane hoping that a car would come by and hit him, (but it didn’t work).”
That’s when Thomas Yoxall drove by. A photographer headed for a conference in Anaheim, California had just begun his five-hour drive on the highway when he saw Andersson’s patrol car speed past him. He then saw the same patrol car as he approached mile marker 84.
Then he saw the man on top of the Trooper. “He’s just beating him in a savage way. Just fist after fist,” he said.
The story says Yoxall pulled over, took his legal handgun from the center console of his pickup truck, and walked onto the highway.
“I yell out to the suspect to stop, I said, ‘Get off him!'” Yoxall said in the story. “His facial expression, the look in his eye (was) ‘evil’ if I had to put a word on it.”
The suspect ignored the commands and continued to beat Andersson.
“I hear a voice…ask me if I needed help,” Andersson said in the story. “I said, ‘Yes, I do.”
As the attacker screamed for him to shut up, Yoxall moved to his left, making sure Andersson was out of the line of fire.
“The next thing I head is two shots,” Andersson said. The first struck the man in the chest, the second in the head, the story says.
Penuelas-Escobar died on the spot, and the attack was over.
The story says investigators are awaiting toxicology results to see if drugs were involved in the attack.
As the woman who had been ejected from the turned-over vehicle was deceased, the chopper Andersson had originally called for her ended up airlifting him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery and more than 100 stitches and staples before doctors stabilized him.
“As much as I fought, at one point I probably couldn’t have gone on anymore,” Andersson said in the story. “I probably wouldn’t be here (if not for Yoxall).”
Yoxall isn’t your typical Arizona concealed carrier. He was charged with felony theft in 2000—a charge that prevented Yoxall, an avid hunter and shooter, from carrying a firearm. The case was pleaded down to a misdemeanor in 2003, which allowed him to petition a judge to reinstate his gun rights. The petition was granted, and Yoxall has been carrying ever since.
“God chose to put me in that place at that particular moment,” Yoxall said of the shooting that saved Andersson. “I just can’t see an evil like that perpetuated without intervening.”
The story says Andersson manages to embrace Yoxall every time they meet, despite his arm still being in a sling. The pair have met a handful of times since the shooting, forging what they say is “always going to be a bond.”
“And not just between me and him,” Andersson said in the story. “But between my family and him, too.”
In the story, Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said the incident is a great example of what can happen when police officers and law abiding citizens work together.
“Thomas didn’t help Ed out based on whose side he was on. He did it because it was a gut instinct that told him he needed to get involved,” Milstead said in the story. “It’s beautiful, it’s pure.”
“I hope people understand that he had to do what he had to do to save somebody else’s life,” Andersson said. “Getting involved isn’t a bad thing, even if it’s just stopping to call 911.”
Yoxall said in the story that he has no regrets, but admits it’s “hard to relive sometimes.”
“No member of our law enforcement should have to be in that situation of fear and being alone with nobody responding,” he said.