Driver kills man attacking Arizona trooper on the way

Emergency services gather at the scene where an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was shot, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, at the scene of a rollover accident on Interstate 10 near Tonopah, Ariz.

(Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP)

PHOENIX – A man who shot and injured an Arizona state trooper Thursday along a remote road and then began slamming the helpless officer’s head into the pavement as the two struggled, was shot dead by the driver, authorities said.

Trooper Edward Andersson, a 27-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety, was shot in the right shoulder and the chest in what authorities called an ambush and was in serious but stable condition after surgery at a Goodyear hospital.

“My trooper would not live without his assistance,” DPS Director Frank Milstead said of the driver who stopped.

Arizona has a “defense of third person” law that allows someone to use deadly force against another, threatening or injuring a third person. It was not unusual that the driver was armed in this gun-friendly state with loose regulations.

“Arizona was open carry before it was a state,” Charles Heller, co-founder of guns-rights group Arizona Citizens Defense League, said of laws allowing people to carry firearms in public. “When you see a man on the street in Tucson, Arizona, with a gun on, don’t you think a lot of it. Of course it is.”

The drama unfolded on an early morning rollover wreck on Interstate 10 in the desert west of Phoenix, that ejected and killed a woman. The authorities believe that the man who shot Andersson was driving the car that crashed.

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Officials said they were trying to determine exactly what happened and that the investigation is facing major problems with Andersson was seriously wounded and two others dead. Their identity is not released immediately.

A separate driver reported gunfire, and Andersson was responding to that call when he saw the wreck and stopped, Milstead and DPS Capt. Damon Cecil said.

Andersson was putting out flares when the suspect opened fire and then physically attacked the wounded soldier, Milstead said. Both Milstead and Cecil said, was ambushed.

The man was on top of the officer and “get the better of him,” slamming Andersson’s head against the sidewalk, Milstead said. That is when the driver showed up and asked if the trooper needed help.

Andersson said yes, and the passer-by went back to his car, got his gun and told the suspect to stop the attack, Milstead said. When he didn’t, the driver shot him.

The prosecutors said they had no comment yet on whether they will be absorbed by the driver, because it is an ongoing research.

The researchers were trying to determine how the rollover happened and whether the suspect was involved in the first reported shots, the officials said. Researchers plan to speak with the person that call.

Milstead said he feared the worst when he on the way to the hospital to check on Andersson.

“He is incredibly fortunate to be here with us today,” the director said.

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