CASA GRANDE - Authorities have apprehended 17 illegal immigrants inside the search perimeter after a police deputy was shot in the abdomen with an AK-47 on Friday.
Thee of the 17 individuals reportedly match the description provided by 53-year-old Deputy Louie Puroll. The three people are bieng interviewed by investigators.
According to Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tammy Villar, rescuers found Deputy after an hour-long search through a remote span of desert near Interstate 8 and Arizona 84, some 50 miles south of Casa Grande. Villar said rescuers found Puroll by using the GPS coordinates from his cell phone.
According to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Puroll had been following a group of five men who were transporting drugs. One of the suspects allegedly hid while the others moved on, and Puroll continued to follow the group. Around 4:00 p.m. the suspect ambushed Puroll and shot at him, grazing his left side above his abdomen.
"They've become more aggressive," Babeu said, referring to the ambush. "They're always armed, but we've never had this happen."
Babeu said Puroll returned fire, and the deputy believes he hit the suspect who shot him.
Puroll, who has been with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office for 15 years, was released from Casa Grande Regional Hospital Friday evening after being treated for the wound.