Man who helped save life of DPS trooper doesn't consider himself a hero

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Thomas Yoxall spoke at a news conference on Jan. 24. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Thomas Yoxall spoke at a news conference on Jan. 24. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Trooper Edward Andersson Trooper Edward Andersson

The bystander who helped save the life of an Arizona state trooper spoke about the incident on Tuesday.

Thomas Yoxall, 43, was driving along Interstate 10 near Tonopah on Jan. 12 when he saw Department of Public Safety Trooper Edward Andersson and Leonard Penuelas-Escobar in a physical fight.

"I noticed the suspect on top of Trooper Andersson, beating him in a savage way," Yoxall said.

[RAW VIDEO: Bystander who helped DPS trooper speaks]

Yoxall stopped and went to help the trooper, who was calling out for help. He ended up shooting Penuelas-Escobar, killing him.

"At the time, my primary concern was for the life and welfare of Trooper Andersson, first and foremost, and putting an end to what was occurring to him," Yoxall said.

He said that he didn't fear for his life because it happened very quickly.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, DPS Col. Frank Milstead called Yoxall a hero.

"I don't consider myself a hero," Yoxall said. "In all honesty, the heroes that day were the first responders who offered aid and comfort to Trooper Andersson, all members of law enforcement that were there on the scene assisting, and on a daily basis, those are the heroes and they always will be.

"I'm an ordinary person," he continued. "I go to work, I do photography, I hang out with my friends and family, I read. I was put in extraordinary circumstances and I may have acted heroically, but I don't consider myself a hero at all."

Yoxall said emotions came flooding in when he had a chance to think about everything and he often replays the moment in his mind.

"I did save somebody's life that morning, but I had to take somebody else's life in the process and it's difficult to reconcile," he explained.

Yoxall said that he has found support in others who have been in similar situations.

Yoxall said he is thankful he was able to help Andersson and added that if he were put in a similar situation, he would respond in the same fashion.

"This is something that I will live with, but I wouldn't change it because another man got to go home to his family and his family gets to keep him a little while longer and that's the important part," Yoxall said.

He said he is a maintenance supervisor and has had no formal law enforcement or military training but does practice with his firearm.

He said in the past friends have called him "the protector" and "the defender."

"I don't know any other way to be," he added.

DPS is providing assistance to help Thomas get through this.

"We're a grateful department," Milstead said.

Andersson is recovering but has more surgeries scheduled. Milstead said the trooper is in good spirits and is optimistic.

The DPS investigation into the incident continues.

[RELATED: DPS identifies man who shot, wounded trooper near Tonopah]

[RELATED: Motorist who aided wounded trooper recalls fear, confusion]

[RELATED: Injured DPS trooper is volunteer volleyball coach at Tonopah Valley High School]

[RELATED: Trooper 'ambushed,' shot in Tonopah expected to be OK; suspect shot and killed by passer-by]

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