TONOPAH, Ariz. – A suspect is dead and an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper is recovering after he was ambushed and shot early Thursday on Interstate 10, according to DPS officials.
Col. Frank Milstead, DPS director, said the suspect was shot and killed near Tonopah by a good Samaritan who pulled off the interstate to help the trooper, reported 12News.
“I don’t know if my trooper would be alive today without his assistance,” Milstead said.
Arizona DPS officials identified him as Trooper Edward Anderson. He is a 27-year veteran.
Anderson underwent surgery for gunshot wounds to his right shoulder and chest area. He is listed in serious but stable condition in ICU.
The shooting occurred at the scene of a fatal rollover crash that claimed the life a woman who was ejected. DPS officials say Anderson spotted the wreck as he responded to a report of shots being fired at another motorist’s vehicle.
Milstead said a call came in early Thursday morning from a driver who said their car had been shot at from the median of I-10 at milepost 81 — just east of California.
The trooper was on his way to investigate the call when he discovered a rollover fatality near milepost 89.
The suspect ambushed the trooper as he began blocking off lanes of traffic and laying out flares, according to Milstead.
After sustaining gunshot wounds in the surprise attack, the suspect was “getting the better of the trooper” in a fight that immediately followed, according to the report. The trooper lost the use of his right arm and hand due to the shooting, Milstead reported during the news conference.
Milstead said the suspect was on top of the trooper striking his head on the pavement, when a man and his wife traveling westbound I-10 pulled over to help.
After confirming the trooper was in dire straits and required assistance, the man retrieved a gun from his car. He fired at the suspect after the the man refused to stop attacking the trooper, according to Milstead. The man called for help using the trooper’s radio, and the attacker died after being shot by the Good Samaritan.
CNN reported the following communication broadcast by the armed citizen: “Hello. Officer down, officer down outside Tonopah. Come in, please,” the man says, according to audio archived on Broadcastify. “He’s in real bad shape. Please send air support, helicopter, please.”
Milstead publicly thanked the unnamed man during a news conference from the hospital. He also thanked the citizens of Arizona for backing law enforcement.
— Dept. Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) January 12, 2017
At the outset, DPS is unsure if the rollover fatality is related to the shooting suspect. The names of the deceased were not released.
According to the colonel, the trooper’s first words to him from his hospital bed were, “Sir, you don’t need to be here. You don’t need to make such a fuss of this.”
(Photo source: Screen shot Arizona DPS Twitter feed)