The trooper, a 27-year department veteran, suffered a severe wound to his shoulder and upper chest but he is expected to recover at a hospital.
"My trooper would not be alive without his assistance," Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said of the good Samaritan who stopped.
The drama unfolded at an early morning rollover wreck on Interstate 10 in the desert west of Phoenix where a woman was ejected and killed. Authorities believe the man who shot the officer was driving the car that crashed.
Officials said they were trying to determine exactly what happened and that the investigation faced major hurdles with the trooper seriously injured and two of the others involved dead. No identities have been released.
A separate driver reported gunfire and a trooper was responding to that call when he spotted the wreck and stopped, Milstead and DPS Capt. Damon Cecil said.
The officer was putting out flares when the suspect opened fire and then physically attacked the wounded trooper, Milstead said. Both Milstead and Cecil said the trooper was ambushed.
The man was on top of the officer and "getting the better of him," slamming the trooper's head against the pavement, Milstead said. That's when the passing driver showed up and asked if the trooper needed help.
He said yes, and the passer-by went back to his vehicle, got his gun and told the suspect to stop the attack, Milstead said. When he didn't, the driver shot him.
Investigators were trying to determine how the rollover happened and whether the suspect was involved with the initial report of gunshots, officials said. Investigators plan to speak with the person who made that call.
Milstead said he feared the worst when he headed to the hospital to check on the wounded trooper.
"He's incredibly fortunate to be here with us today," the director said.
Westbound Interstate 10 was closed most of the morning, and traffic heading for California and western Arizona was detoured to other highways.
|© The Associated Press Emergency personnel gather at the scene where an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was shot, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, at the scene of a rollover accident on Interstate 10 near Tonopah, Ariz. An Arizona state trooper…|
Motorist with gun kills man beating wounded Arizona trooper
An Arizona trooper who had been shot and was being beaten by a man with a pistol was saved Thursday by a motorist who killed his attacker, authorities said.
The man who came upon the scene warned the suspect to stop striking the officer, but the assailant continued, said Capt. Damon Cecil, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The good Samaritan got a gun from his car and shot the suspect, who died at the scene.
The trooper, a 27-year veteran, was shot in the chest and shoulder. He is in serious and stable condition, Cecil said.
The trooper was identified Friday as Ed Andersson.
Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Public Safety Department, said he would like to thank the man who stepped in. "I don't know that my trooper would be alive today without his assistance," he said, according to CNN affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix.
Public safety spokesman Bart Graves said the incident began with the trooper responding to report of shots fired from the median of an unlit, rural section of Interstate 10 near Tonopah. Andersson came across a vehicle that had rolled over and got out to investigate. While Andersson was setting flares, the suspect shot him.
It was not clear where the suspect was when the officer pulled up.
Milstead said at some point the suspect started beating Andersson, who was unable to use his right arm to defend himself. That's when the motorist pulled up and opened fire on the suspect.
"It's fairly rare" that citizens who come to the aid of law enforcement officers use deadly force, Cecil said.
Another motorist who stopped used the trooper's portable radio to call in the shooting.
The conversation between that driver and the dispatcher was very businesslike, Cecil said.
"Hello. Officer down, officer down outside Tonopah. Come in, please," the man says, according to audio archived on Broadcastify, which streams radio communications between emergency responders. "He's in real bad shape. Please send air support, helicopter, please."
He tells the dispatcher there are two other people who are down in an "unknown condition."
Cecil praised the motorists who stopped to help, saying, "They were calm, determined."
A woman who was ejected from the vehicle died at a hospital, authorities said.
Authorities didn't release the names of the people involved in the incident, which occurred after 4 a.m. near mile marker 89, west of Tonopah. That city is about 50 miles west of Phoenix.
Armed Motorist Praised as Hero After Killing Gunman Who Ambushed and Wounded Arizona State Trooper
An armed good Samaritan is being credited with saving the life of an Arizona state trooper after he fatally shot a gunman who ambushed the officer on a highway on Thursday, police have announced.
The trooper, who has not been identified, was responding to a call of gunfire at around 4 a.m. on Thursday and came across a car accident on Interstate 10 on his way to the scene. It was there that the suspect attacked, according to the Associated Press.
“In the initial confrontation, the suspect shoots the trooper in the shoulder right chest area at least one time — possibly twice — disabling the use of the trooper’s right hand and right arm,” Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said during a Thursday news conference.
The ambush occurred about 40 miles outside of Phoenix.
Milstead said the attacker then began bashing the trooper’s head into the pavement. A passing driver stopped at the scene and the injured trooper managed to utter, “Please help me.”
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“ retreats back to his vehicle, removes his own weapon from the vehicle, confronts the suspect, giving him orders to stop assaulting the officer,” Milstead continued. “The suspect refuses. The uninvolved third party fires, striking and killing the suspect.”
Another passer-by who also stopped at the scene called for help using the trooper’s radio, NBC News reports. The trooper was taken to a hospital in Goodyear, where he was listed in serious but stable condition after undergoing surgery, the AP reports.
Milstead praised the passer-by at the news conference, saying, “I don’t know that my trooper would be alive today without his assistance.”
Authorities have not made the trooper’s identity public, but described him as a 27-year veteran of the department.
He told of his meeting with the hospitalized trooper, recalling the man’s first words upon Milstead’s arrival.
“His first words to me were, ‘Sir, you don’t need to be here. You don’t need to make a fuss of this,’ ” Milstead recalled. “And I said, ‘We’re not done fussing.’ ”
The incident is under investigation and Milstead said officials have not determined a motive for the ambush. He added that officials are working to determine where the attacker came from.
Officials are also looking in to the car accident the trooper came across while on his way to the call. Authorities described the crash as a “roll-over collision,” announcing in a statement that one person died in the accident.