Bystander who helped injured DPS trooper in Tonopah speaks out

Posted at 12:35 PM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 19:46:03-05

The man who fatally shot a suspect beating an Arizona state trooper said Tuesday that he doesn't consider himself a hero and that he's grappling with taking someone's life.

“This is something that I will live with, but I wouldn’t change it because another man got to home to his family," Thomas Yoxall said.

Yoxall gave his account of the dramatic Jan. 12 encounter between the now-dead suspect and the state trooper who had been shot. He had not been previously identified.

Department of Public Safety officials say Trooper Edward Andersson was ambushed while putting out flares after coming across a roll-over crash on Interstate 10 outside of Phoenix and checking on a report of shots being fired at another vehicle.

43-year-old Yoxall cried and shook while recounting how he killed Leonard Pennelas-Escobar who was beating Trooper Andersson "in a savage way."

"My commands were ignored by the suspect as Trooper Andersson called out for help, and I alleviated the threat to him," Yoxall said. “I firmly believe that that morning I was put there, as Col. Milstead said, by God."

Even though Yoxall has no formal gun training, he said he sees gun ownership as a privilege that comes with great responsibility. 

“So I have taken the time to make sure several times a year to go out and practice those safety techniques," Yoxall said.

Trooper Andersson is now at home recovering with more surgeries scheduled. DPS Col. Frank Milstead said Andersson lost part of his humerus bone when the suspect shot him in the shoulder. 

DPS is grateful to Yoxall that their trooper is alive.

“He (Yoxall) acts, reacts at the highest level with everything to lose that morning and very little for him to gain, and he does it exceptionally well," Milstead said.