Arizona state trooper ambushed, then saved by armed passing motorist
A 27-year veteran of the Arizona state police was ambushed on a lonely stretch of highway after responding to a report of shots fired in the vicinity.
Receiving a bullet wound in the shoulder and at least one bullet in the chest, the trooper was at the assailant's mercy when a passing motorist stopped, retrieved a weapon, and shot the attacker dead.
"As the trooper exited his vehicle and began to lay out flares, it appears at this point that he was ambushed by the suspect," Milstead said. "In the initial confrontation, the suspect shoots the trooper in the shoulder [and] right chest area at least one time, possibly twice, disabling the use of the trooper's right hand and right arm."
The gunman then attacked the trooper with his hands, bashing his head into the pavement, Milstead said. That's when the passing motorist stopped.
"The trooper says, 'Please help me,' and asks the uninvolved third party for help," Milstead said. "That person retreats back to his vehicle, removes his own weapon from the vehicle, confronts the suspect, giving him orders to stop assaulting the officer. The suspect refuses. The uninvolved third party fires, striking and killing the suspect."
The hero driver was identified only as a man who was traveling to California with his wife.
A second motorist who also stopped at the scene ran to the trooper's vehicle, grabbed its radio and called for help.
"My concern was his life," that second motorist, Brian Schober, of Scottsdale, Arizona, told NBC News on Thursday. He wouldn't give any other details except to say he and the man who shot the suspect had been able to meet each other and say thank you.
According to a recording of the police radio exchange, Schober told a dispatcher: "Hello, officer down, officer down outside Tonopah. Come in, please. This is a civilian. He's shot on I-10 on the eastbound lane — sorry, westbound lane."
Schober continued: "He's in real bad shape. Please send air support, helicopter, please. There are also two civilians on — off — [the] road also laying [in] unknown condition."
That's some level-headed thinking by both motorists. But the hero who took down the attacker displayed remarkable courage as well. Even if armed, I don't think there are too many of us who would have come to the assistance of an officer fighting off an armed attacker.
The coolness of the second motorist to call in an accurate position for the EMS also probably helped save the trooper's life.
The actions of both motorists deserves some kind of recognition and is a prime example of how ordinary people, thrust into extraordinary situations, can make a difference.