Police in Arizona are thanking two civilians for helping save an officer’s life after he was ambushed and shot in the early hours of Thursday morning.
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), one of the men used the injured officer’s radio to call for backup as he lay bleeding – while the other shot and killed the man who allegedly ambushed him.
“I don’t know that my trooper would be alive today without [their] assistance,” DPS Capt. Damon Cecil said in a press conference Thursday morning.
According to police, the incident occurred around 4:20 a.m. Thursday, as officer Edward Anderson, a 27-year veteran of the DPS, responded to a call of shots fired on Interstate 10 near Tonopah, Ariz.
When he arrived on scene he discovered a vehicle had rolled over and the occupant, a woman, had been ejected from the vehicle. As he was setting out flares, Anderson was “ambushed and shot by a suspect in the immediate area” according to a statement from the Department of Safety.
Anderson was struck in the shoulder and arm before a fight broke out between the officer and the suspect.
“The suspect is getting the better of the trooper, and is on top of him and striking the trooper’s head on the pavement,” Col. Frank Milstead, director of the DPS, said in a press conference outside Abrazo West hospital in Goodyear, Ariz., Thursday.
At that moment, police say a man and his wife happened to be driving by and noticed the situation confronting the officer.
“The trooper says, ‘Please help me,’ and asks the uninvolved third party for help,” Milstead said. “That person retreats back to his vehicle, removes his own weapon from the vehicle, confronts the suspect, giving him orders to stop assaulting the officer.”
“The suspect refuses. The uninvolved third party fires, striking and killing the suspect.”
A short while later another passerby, Scottsdale resident Brian Schober, happened upon the scene as well.
“I saw the officer’s patrol car in the middle of the highway,” Schober told NBC-12 News in Arizona. “I saw a person… he flagged me down for help.”
Schober said he saw the other man trying to call 911 on his cellphone but was unable to get through. Schober came up with another solution.
“I used the officer’s hand radio and called dispatch to request a helicopter for first aid and backup,” Schober said.
Thanks for the thoughts and prayers this morning for our Trooper that was shot. Looks like he will be okay after some recovery @Arizona_DPS
— Col. Frank Milstead (@frank_milstead) January 12, 2017
Anderson was taken to hospital where he is in serious but stable condition. Both the suspect and the woman who was ejected from the car in the crash died as a result of their injuries.
As for the motive of the alleged attacker, police are at a near-total loss.
“Everything happened down in the middle of nowhere and all of the people that knew what happened are dead, except for my trooper, who drove upon this scene,” Milford said. “So, we have a lot of investigation to do. We don’t know what the story is, and we’ll figure that out as time goes on.”
— Dept. Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) January 12, 2017
In a statement to media, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey praised the officer and of the two men who came to his aid.
“We are so relieved to hear this brave officer is safe, and will recover,” Ducey said in his statement. “This incident is another reminder of the risks that the men and women who wake up each morning and put on the badge take for our state.”
“I urge Arizonans to join me in praying for a quick recovery for this brave officer, and thanking everyone who, through their actions in real time, showed our officers exactly what Arizona means when we say: ‘You have our backs — and we will always have yours.’”