Several months ago, an Arizona state trooper was wounded in an ambush-style attack in Tonopah while responding to a call.
A motorist passing by the scene turned into a Good Samaritan when he saw the officer being attacked and stopped to help, saving the trooper's life by shooting the attacker.
It turns out that the helpful citizen was a convicted felon who had turned his life around. CNN reported that Thomas Yoxall was on a five-hour drive to a conference in Anaheim, California, when state trooper Ed Andersson sped past him with lights flashing. Yoxall assumed someone was going to get pulled over.
Unbeknownst to Yoxall, Andersson was responding to reports of a man shooting at motorists when he came upon an overturned vehicle and an injured woman in the arms of a man.
After Andersson blocked the slow lane, set up flares and called for help, he returned to help the accident victim, only to discover the man that had been with her was missing.
When the officer found him, he was in the emergency lane, pointing a gun at Andersson. He was the man motorists had reported and he had one bullet left in his gun. He fired and the bullet missed Andersson's vest, hitting him in the shoulder of his dominant hand:
“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.”
When Yoxall came upon the scene, the officer was on the ground, being attacked by the suspect:
“He's beating him in a savage way. Just fist after fist.”
Yoxall knew he had to do something, so he pulled over, grabbed his gun and went to Andersson's aid:
“I yell out to the suspect to stop, I said 'Get off him!' His facial expression, the look in his eye (was) 'evil' if I had to put a word on it.”
The attacker refused to stop and Andersson confirmed to Yoxall that he needed help. Yoxall fired twice at the suspect, hitting the man, now identified as 37-year-old Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, in the chest and head, killing him.
CBS News reported that Penuelas-Escobar was in the country illegally and was a drug user. CBS added that he possibly worked as a Mexican police officer at one time.
As for Yoxall's accurate shooting, CBS News wrote that Yoxall had no military or police training, but developed his skills as a private gun owner through regular “gun safety technique” practice. Arizona law allows for “defense of third person” that consists of the use of deadly force when that third person is being threatened or injured.
According to CNN, Yoxall credits God for him being in the right place at the right time:
“God chose to put me in that place at that particular moment. I just can't see an evil like that perpetuated without intervening.”
After his felony theft case of 2000 was pleaded down to a misdemeanor in 2003, the avid hunter had petitioned to have his gun rights restored. That request was granted and it allowed Yoxall to legally carry the gun that ultimately saved Andersson's life.
Andersson's injuries were so severe he required surgery and “100 stitches and staples.”
The two men have since formed a friendship that includes the respective families of each.