A former felon who turned his life around and found God is getting major accolades for saving the life of an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper — and just in the nick of time.
It all unfolded around 4:30 a.m. on January 12 when Trooper Ed Andersson responded to a call that a man was firing a weapon at cars on a local highway, but when Anderson arrived at the scene, he suddenly became one of the culprit’s victims.
A man police identified as 37-year-old Leonard Penuelas-Escobar allegedly shot Andersson in the right shoulder after the officer exited the car, leaving him partially paralyzed and unable to draw his weapon. It was a shot that should have missed him, but unfortunately didn’t, leaving the cop in a vulnerable situation.
“A half inch to my right it would have missed me,” Andersson told CNN. “A few inches to my left, it would have hit my vest.”
Andersson said the man, who was out of bullets, began to savagely beat him, slamming the cop’s head into the ground. While the situation looked bleak, another guy named Thomas Yoxall, 43, suddenly arrived on the scene — and changed everything.
As Yoxall drove up, he quickly realized that what he thought was a routine traffic stop was something else entirely, CNN reported.
A former felon who was charged with theft in 2000 and later changed his life around and found God, grabbed his firearm, got out of his car and took action.
“He’s beating him in a savage way. Just fist after fist,” Yoxall recalled of the scene. “I yell out to the suspect to stop, I said ‘get off him!’ His facial expression, the look in his eye (was) ‘evil’ if I had to put a word on it.”
Realizing the dire nature of the situation, Yoxall told Penuelas-Escobar to stop and, when he didn’t, he fired two shots, killing Penuelas-Escobar and saving Andersson’s life.
The cop, who is eternally grateful, has said he’s not sure he would be here still if not for the heroic and kind act. As for Yoxall, he believes his presence at the scene was divine in nature.
“God chose to put me in that place at that particular moment,” Yoxall told CNN. “I just can’t see an evil like that perpetuated without intervening.”
Yoxall did tell reporters back in January that he struggled with taking a life and that he sought advice from his pastor afterward, but that he would do the same thing again if he had to, the Arizona Republic reported.
“I did save somebody’s life that morning, but I had to take somebody else’s life in the process and that’s difficult to reconcile,” he said.
In the end, though, Yoxall said he’s thankful he was able to help.
“I’m just thankful that I was able to respond, (in a way) that ultimately saved Trooper Andersson’s life,” he said. “I feel that it’s a right and a privilege to be a private gun owner, and with that right and privilege comes a great responsibility.”
Read more about the story here.
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