ARIZONA – ARMED CITIZEN SAVES TROOPER

Good Samaritan shoots, kills man who wounded Arizona DPS trooper in struggle
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DPS TROOPER SHOT ON I-10 NEAR TONOPAHDPS spokesman discusses shooting of trooper near Tonopah | 1:13
Arizona Department of Public Safety PIO Capt. Damon Cecil answers questions about a trooper being shot Jan. 12, 2017, at the scene of a rollover accident on Interstate 10 near Tonopah. Mark Henle/azcentral.com

DPS TROOPER SHOT ON I-10 NEAR TONOPAHDPS trooper injured in shooting on I-10 | 0:49
A DPS trooper was injured in a shooting on I-10 near Tonopah on Jan. 12, 2016 Yihyun Jeong/The Republic

DPS TROOPER SHOT ON I-10 NEAR TONOPAHArizona Department of Public Safety trooper shot on I-10 | 0:44
I-10 was closed off near exit 94 where a DPS trooper was shot Thursday. Officials instructed semi truck drivers to back out as investigators gathered evidence. Yihyun Jeong/azcentral.com

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DPS spokesman discusses shooting of trooper near Tonopah
DPS trooper injured in shooting on I-10
Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper shot on I-10
Woman ejected from vehicle also dead at scene west of Tonopah
An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was shot, Jan. 12, 2017, at the scene of a rollover accident on Interstate 10 near Tonopah.(Photo: Mark Henle / The Republic)

A man traveling to California came to the rescue of a wounded state trooper who was struggling with the gunman who had shot him on an isolated stretch of Interstate 10, authorities said.

The man, who was with his wife, stopped his car when he came upon a rollover accident and saw the struggle, according to Col. Frank Milstead, Arizona Department of Public Safety director.

The trooper told the man he needed help, and the man returned to his car, got his gun and fired at the assailant when he refused to listen to orders to stop and back away, Milstead said.

The man who shot the trooper was dead, as was a woman who had been ejected from the vehicle, Milstead said.

Milstead said the trooper, a 27-year veteran, was in stable condition after being shot in the right shoulder and chest. His wife and other troopers were with him at the hospital where he was scheduled to undergo surgery. The trooper’s name was not immediately released.

He was going to be “OK after some recovery,” Milstead tweeted earlier Thursday.

Roberts: This is a gun story to celebrate on Interstate 10

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Milstead spoke at a Goodyear hospital where the trooper was taken, and DPS Capt. Damon Cecil provided details from the scene of the shooting, west of Tonopah and about 40 miles west of downtown Phoenix.

Milstead said the trooper was responding to a shots-fired call at milepost 81 about 4 a.m. after a caller said a car in the freeway median had fired a shot at his vehicle.

As the trooper was heading west, he came across a rollover accident at milepost 89. The car involved was registered in Arizona.

“We believe the suspect was in the rolled-over car, but it hasn’t been confirmed,” Cecil said.

The trooper was settling down flares in the pitch dark when a gunman “ambushed” the trooper at the scene, shooting him. The wound affected the trooper’s gun hand, but the trooper continued to physically fight the man, Cecil said.

Milstead said the civilian saw a man on top of the trooper, pounding his head in the pavement, and asked if the trooper needed help.

The civilian, who also was not identified, shot the man and then used the trooper’s radio to call for help, Milstead said.

Medical helicopters flew the trooper, the gunman and the woman ejected in the rollover to the Abrazo West Campus in Goodyear.

The Buckeye Police Department also posted their wishes for the trooper’s speedy recovery on a department social-media account.

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
@Arizona_DPS the @BuckeyePolice wishes your Trooper a speedy recovery. We are thinking of your Troopers and family’s today.

— Buckeye Police Dept (@BuckeyePolice) January 12, 2017I-10 to remain closed as investigation continues
Law enforcement vehicles were parked outside the Abrazo West Campus in Goodyear on Jan. 12, 2017. (Photo: Alessandra Luckey/The Republic)

Officials said that nearly 100 semitrucks had to be backed out of the area as the investigation expanded.

A detour for local traffic was set up using 411th Avenue. ADOT suggested State Route 85 and Interstate 8 as alternate routes for travelers passing through the area.

Truck driver Kenny Dunn said he was driving westbound on the Interstate 10 when the traffic came to a standstill.

Dunn said an official came by his window and said, “Hang tight, it’s going to be awhile.”

He said he saw smoke coming from a rolled-over vehicle and a maroon unmarked DPS car in the middle of the freeway.

He said he learned that a DPS trooper might have been injured and shortly afterward saw a helicopter swoop in and take off. Another helicopter came and took off after 10 minutes, he said.

During this time, his truck partner, Lawrence Weakley, 40, was asleep, but Weakley was awakened by Dunn and told what had happened.

“It sounds tragic,” he said. “Officers flew by (Dunn) to respond. Everyone responded immediately. It’s overwhelming.”

Their truck was the last of nearly 100 trucks that had to be backed out of the area as investigators worked to expand the scene.

Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statement Thursday morning.

“We are so relieved to hear this brave officer is safe, and will recover,” Ducey said. “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. A courageous officer who puts his life on the line to protect our communities — and the fast-acting first-responders whose efforts were responsible for getting him to safety, doing for this officer what our cops do for our state every day. “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.’”
Return to azcentral.com for additional details. Includes information from Arizona Republic reporter Logan Newman.

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