PHOENIX — Even veteran cops sometimes need help from armed citizens. Arizona State Trooper Edward Andersson might have been beaten to death if a gun-wielding motorist had not come to his aid.
“My trooper would not be alive without his assistance,” Colonel Frank Milstead, the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), said of an unidentified California resident.
The man was driving west on Interstate 10 on Jan. 12 when he saw a man slamming Andersson’s head into the pavement. Andersson had just been ambushed and shot by the man, Leonard Pennelas-Escobar.
The driver stopped and asked Andersson if he needed help. He said yes, and the driver then got his gun from the vehicle and shot Pennelas-Escobar. He then used Andersson’s radio to call for help, The Arizona Republic reported. The attacker died on the scene. Andersson was taken to a hospital in Goodyear, Ariz., by helicopter.
Officials are still trying to determine why the man attacked Andersson.
It all started when Andersson saw a rollover wreck and stopped at around 4 a.m. That wreck resulted in a woman being ejected and dying. He had just put out flares when the suspect shot him and began beating him, The Republic reported.
Before the driver stopped to help, the suspect was “getting the better of” Andersson and slamming his head into the pavement, AP said.
Andersson is a 27-year veteran of the DPS.
“He’s incredibly fortunate to be here with us today,” Milstead said of Andersson.
Andersson has been released from the hospital.
“Thanks for the thoughts and prayers this morning for our Trooper that was shot,” Milstead tweeted, “looks like he will be okay after some recovery.”
The interstate had to be closed for 10 hours and traffic diverted while DPS investigated the shooting, The Republic reported.
Pennelas-Escobar was a former member of the Mexican federal police and was in the U.S. illegally, Milstead said. Pennelas-Escobar also used illegal drugs, he said.
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