After two weeks of remaining anonymous, the good Samaritan who shot and killed a man attacking a trooper on an Arizona highway has finally broken his silence.
The emotional distress from the Jan. 12 incident was physically manifested in 43-year-old Thomas Yoxall as he spoke with reporters Tuesday. Yoxall cried and his body trembled as he recounted what occurred that day.
Yoxall said he was driving down the highway when he noticed the suspect slamming Trooper Edward Andersson’s head into the pavement. Andersson had already been shot by the suspect, but the brutal assault continued in what Yoxall described as “a savage way.”
Yoxall, who has a valid concealed carry permit, retrieved a gun from his car and shot the suspect, later identified as Leonard Pennelas-Escobar, after he repeatedly refused to stop assaulting Andersson.
“To be honest with you, it was very visceral and instinctive. I had to help. I knew I had to help. So there wasn’t an option for me,” Yoxall said.
Pennelas-Escobar, who was in the country illegally and believed to be a drug user, died from injuries he sustained in the shooting.
Yoxall said, regardless of the circumstances, he’s having a hard time coping with the fact that he took another man’s life. Although authorities and some citizens believe otherwise, Yoxall said he’s no hero.
“I firmly believe that that morning I was put there… by God,” Yoxall said. “It’s difficult to think about that day still.”
Andersson stopped that day to assist Pennelas-Escobar, who had been involved in a rollover crash on the highway. Pennelas-Escobar’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Vanessa Monique Lopez-Ruiz, died after being thrown from the vehicle.
Andersson was putting out flares in an effort to slow passing motorists when Pennelas-Escobar charged at him, shot him in the chest, then proceeded to punch him. It’s still unclear what motivated Pennelas-Escobar to attack the trooper.