In the early morning hours on January 12, 43-year-old Thomas Yoxall saw an Arizona state trooper on Interstate 10 being assaulted by a man. Yoxall drew and fired his weapon, killing the suspect but saving the life of the state trooper. In the time since, many have dubbed Yoxall as a hero. He doesn’t see it that way himself, however, and prefers to keep a low ton on the incident. Self admitting, Yoxall says he has a checkered past. He has a felony theft conviction in 2000 that left him stripped of his gun rights for three years. With his rights restored, Yoxall was able to be legally carrying on the day he saved the state trooper’s life.
DPS Trooper Edward Andersson, the state trooper that Yoxall rescued, says the man has paid his debt back to society, and then some. Yoxall successfully completed probation and was able to legally have his gun rights restored in 2003.
“That morning, I never would have dreamt that I was going to save somebody’s life, let alone take the life of another individual,” Yoxall said. “I don’t recall any thought or feeling of fear. It happened very quickly. There wasn’t necessarily time for me to react, or think logically. I don’t consider myself a hero that day.”
The scenario unfolded as Trooper Edward Andersson responded to a vehicle rollover. A male and female victim had been thrown from the car. The officer approached the male victim, who was was an illegal alien from Mexico and a former federal Mexican police officer named Leonard Penuelas-Escobar. Escobar pulled his gun and shot Andersson in the shoulder and then repeatedly slammed the officer’s head into the road.
Yoxall witnessed the incident and saw that Escobar was relentlessly trying to kill the officer. He pulled over, pulled his handgun, and attempted to rescue Andersson. Escobar refused to stop the brutal assault, leaving Yoxall forced to fire two shots. When Escobar hit the ground, Yoxall rushed to assist the officer. It was then that Escobar stood up and plunged at both of them. Yoxall fired another shot, hitting Escobar in the head and fatally wounding him. As it turns out, Escobar and his female accomplice, who was killed in the car accident, were drug dealers and also meth users.