An Arizona man who killed an assailant who shot a state trooper spoke out today for the first time since the incident earlier this month.
“I never would have dreamt that I was gonna save somebody’s life, let alone take the life of another individual,” Thomas Yoxall, 43, said today at a news conference.
Authorities in the state have credited Yoxall with saving the life of Arizona State Trooper Edward Andersson.
Andersson had been setting up flares around a car accident scene on Jan. 12, when a man, later identified by authorities as Leonard Pennelas-Escobar, allegedly shot the trooper in the chest and began beating the trooper’s head to the ground, The Associated Press reported last week.
Yoxall appeared emotional today as he recounted finding Andersson being beaten, he said.
“My commands were ignored by the suspect as Trooper Andersson called out for help, and I alleviated the threat to him,” Yoxall told reporters of his using his handgun to shoot the alleged assailant.
Yoxall said that it was “difficult to reconcile” saving somebody’s life but also having to take somebody else’s in the process. However, when asked by a reporter if he would have done it again, Yoxall responded, “Yes.”
“I just know that doing the right thing sometimes has a price and that price is severe,” he said. “I wouldn’t change it because another man got to go home to his family, and his family gets to keep him for a little while longer.”
Yoxall added that he does not consider himself a hero and called himself an “ordinary person […] put in extraordinary circumstances.”
Frank Milstead, the director of Arizona’s Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference last week that it was unclear why Pennelas-Escobar attacked the trooper, according to the AP.
Pennelas-Escobar was believed to have been the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident the trooper was responding to, the AP reported.
The AP added that Pennelas-Escobar’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Vanessa Monique Lopez-Ruiz, was ejected during the accident and later pronounced dead.
Andersson suffered gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and chest, the AP said, adding that he underwent surgery and has since been released from the hospital.
Arizona has a “defense of third person” law that allows someone to use deadly force against another who is threatening or injuring a third person, according to the AP.