PHOENIX — A good Samaritan driving an isolated stretch of Interstate 10 near Phoenix probably saved the life of an Arizona state trooper who was being attacked early Thursday morning.
The man shot and killed a suspect he said was beating a highway patrol officer, who had already been shot, near Tonopah, about 50 miles west of downtown Phoenix.
The officer was identified as Edward Andersson, a 27-year veteran. He is hospitalized in serious but stable condition after being shot in the right shoulder and chest.
Anderson had been investigating a rollover accident just before shots were fired at him around 4:30 a.m., he told fellow officers.
“I don’t know that my trooper would be alive without his assistance,” Department of Public Safety Director Col. Frank Milstead said of driver’s intervention.
The driver, whose name has not been released, was in the car with his family. He pulled over after seeing the fight. He asked the officer if he needed help and when the officer said yes, ran back to his car and retrieved a weapon.
The family man drew his weapon and demanded the attacker stop. When that didn’t happen, he fired and hit the man multiple times. The stranger used the police car radio to call for help.
“I would just say thank you,” Milstead said of the intervention.
Arizona has a “defense of third person” law that allows someone to use deadly force against another who is threatening or injuring a third person. It was not unusual that the passing driver was armed in this gun-friendly state with loose regulations.
“Arizona was open-carry before it was a state,” Charles Heller, co-founder of guns-rights group the Arizona Citizens Defense League, said of laws allowing people to carry firearms in public. “If you see a guy walking down the street in Tucson, Arizona, with a gun on, you don’t think much of it. It’s natural.”
The woman was behind the wheel of the vehicle that crashed died. They were all taken to a hospital in Goodyear by medical helicopter. Authorities say a possible motive for the attack on the trooper remains unclear.
Authorities closed I-10 near State Route 85. The westbound roadway was shut down at 411th Avenue. It reopened Thursday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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