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 [and] 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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“[The driver] 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.”
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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.