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Officer shot 8 times, including the head, at Phoenix apartment complex

Tyler Moldovan.png
Posted at 9:55 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 21:41:23-05

PHOENIX — Authorities are releasing more information on the shooting of a Phoenix police officer that occurred early Tuesday morning.

Officer Tyler Moldovan remains in critical condition after being shot up to eight times, including in the head, according to court paperwork.

Around 2 a.m. Tuesday, officers responded to the area of 19th Avenue and Camelback Road for reports of vehicles doing donuts and speeding.

When officers arrived, they found skid marks and smoke in the air, but no vehicles. A short time later, additional calls of the vehicles were broadcast to police in the area of 15th Avenue and Camelback Road.

There, officers saw a black Dodge Charger pull into a parking lot.

When officers pulled into the lot, they saw a man, later identified by police as 24-year-old Essa Williams, jump the fence into the apartment complex, according to court paperwork. Officers say they observed a gun case inside the black Charger.

Essa Williams.jpg
Mugshot of Essa Williams

A few minutes later, officers spotted the same man jump the wall at the apartment complex. A perimeter was then set up and officers searched it by foot looking for the suspect.

Moments later, Officer Moldovan located Williams hiding on a covered patio. He was on his cellphone telling someone that he was going to jail, according to court documents. Moldovan asked Williams if he had any weapons and he replied, "No."

Williams then pulled out a gun from his waist area, raised it at Moldovan, and fired multiple times. Moldovan fell to the ground after the first shot was fired and Williams continued firing at him while he was lying on the ground, court records stated.

Williams then jumped out from the patio, dropped his gun, and tried multiple times to pull Moldovan's handgun from its holster, court documents show.

At that point, another officer ran to the shooting location and saw Williams standing over Moldovan.

As the second officer was running toward the two, he saw Williams yank harder at Moldovan’s holster, trying to get his gun. Williams then threw himself to the ground and the second officer attempted to arrest and handcuff him.

Williams attempted to get away from the officer but by that time another officer arrived, they were able to place him in custody.

Officer Moldovan was rushed to a hospital where it was discovered he had up to eight gunshot wounds, including a gunshot wound to the head. He was unresponsive and put on life support, according to documents.

Tyler Moldovan
Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Moldovan

Peter Torneanu, Moldovan’s Uncle says Tyler always wanted to be a police officer growing up.

“You don’t understand how close we were. Like we don’t wait to tell each other we love one another. We been there for each other our entire lives,” Torneanu tells ABC15.

“Just unbelievable. like no words to describe it. I feel like I’m in a dream, I just want to wake up. I just want to wake up. This has all been a nightmare.”

'We believe in miracles': Uncle of injured Phoenix officer shares his story

Williams is facing multiple charges that include attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.

In 2017, he served three years in prison for armed robbery, aggravated assault, and endangerment. Because of this sentence, he was prohibited from possessing a weapon.

A $3 million cash bond has been set for the shooting involving the Phoenix police officer and will be held without bond on a probation violation case.

His next court appearance is scheduled for December 21 at 1:30 p.m.

The community can donate to help Officer Moldovan and his family through the Phoenix Police Foundation, an organization aimed to provide financial assistance to the department's employees and their families.