TONOPAH - A Good Samaritan credited with helping to save a Department of Public Safety trooper who was "ambushed" on Interstate 10 last week says he believes God put him there to assist.
Trooper Edward Andersson, who has been with the department for 27 years, was taken to the hospital in stable condition after the shooting incident Thursday morning. In a Monday press conference, Col. Frank Milstead said Andersson has been released and is recovering.
According to Milstead, the situation began around 4:20 a.m. Thursday after a driver reported his vehicle had been shot at near milepost 81 on I-10. More drivers then began reporting a man in the road, dragging a woman's body away from a rollover crash.
Andersson, who had been conducting truck inspections, responded to the calls and found Leonard Pennuelas Escobar along the side of the road holding Vanessa Lopez-Ruiz.
Andersson reportedly laid down flares to alert oncoming drivers, then approached the pair. According to Milstead, that's when Escobar said something to Andersson in Spanish and pulled his 9mm pistol, opening fire and striking Andersson in the shoulder.
As the Good Samaritan drove up to the scene, he saw Escobar straddling Andersson and attacking him. The Good Samaritan retrieved his own handgun, and after Escobar refused to stop striking Andersson, the man fired twice, incapacitating Escobar.
As Andersson awaited medical help, Escobar tried to attack again, prompting the Good Samaritan to fire a third shot, hitting and killing Escobar.
Lopez-Ruiz also died from injuries sustained in the rollover crash.
Milstead said Escobar's motive for shooting at passersby and attacking the trooper is unclear, but they believe he may have been under the influence of drugs.
Milstead said the Good Samaritan, "a humble and spiritual guy", has been cooperative in the investigation. He reportedly told DPS he believes God put him there that morning so he could help in saving Andersson's life.
The man was on his way to California with his fiancee when he came upon the scene Thursday morning.
Milstead said the Good Samaritan is not involved with law enforcement or military, but does have shooting experience.
DPS is still actively investigating.
The Arizona State Troopers Association has set up an online page where people can donate to support Trooper Anderson.