Trooper who was shot, beaten on I-10 forms friendship with man who saved him

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Edward Andersson, left, was shot and being attacked when Thomas Yoxall, right, came to his rescue. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Edward Andersson, left, was shot and being attacked when Thomas Yoxall, right, came to his rescue. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Andersson has been with DPS for 27 years and is long eligible for retirement but he wants to go back to work. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Andersson has been with DPS for 27 years and is long eligible for retirement but he wants to go back to work. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
AZFirearms in Avondale is holding a fundraiser for Andersson. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) AZFirearms in Avondale is holding a fundraiser for Andersson. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The gun shop will be raffling off a Head Down PV9 Semi-Auto Rifle worth about $1,300. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The gun shop will be raffling off a Head Down PV9 Semi-Auto Rifle worth about $1,300. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

More than four months after being shot and beaten along a pitch-black stretch of Interstate 10 near Tonopah, Arizona Department of Public Safety Trooper Edward Andersson has his sights set on doing whatever it takes to return to his job. 

Andersson has been with DPS for 27 years and is long eligible for retirement but right now, that is not even a consideration. 

“It's not the way I want to go, by somebody else's choosing. I want to go by my choosing. So, I'll try to do everything I can to try to get back into the swing of things. It's looking not positive about it, but I'll kick and fight until they actually tell me no you cannot go back because you cannot do the same functions as you were doing before,” said Andersson. 

A passerby is credited with helping save Andersson’s life. 

Thomas Yoxall, 43, was driving along the I-10 on Jan. 12 when he saw Andersson and Leonard Penuelas-Escobar in a physical fight. Yoxall stopped and went to help the trooper, who was calling out for help. He ended up shooting Penuelas-Escobar, killing him.

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

“I said it that morning and I’ll continue to say it, I feel God put me there and I feel blessed that I was there and I was able to save Trooper Andersson,” said Yoxall. 

The two men have very different personalities. Yoxall is talkative and outgoing. Andersson is a man of few words and reserved. But the pair has forged a friendship and a bond that will last the rest of their lives. 

[READ MORE: Man who helped save life of DPS trooper doesn't consider himself a hero]

“Every few weeks on Sundays after I get out of church, we meet, him, his wife Sandy, his gals, grandkids. We have lunch. We hang out for a little bit and catch up to what's going on. Something like this happens that bond's forged,” said Yoxall.

The men also have very different appearances. Andersson is the clean-cut, short-haired conservative police-type. Yoxall is covered with tattoo and has earlobe gauges. 

“You don't judge a book by its cover. So, you get to know him. You get to realize you have common factors with the person and then you become friends. And that's what's happened to us,” said Andersson. 

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

On Wednesday, the men met at AZFirearms in Avondale. Owners Cheryl and Danny Todd have chosen Andersson as the recipient of this year’s First Responder’s Appreciation Day. It’s a tradition the couple started three years ago to help local first responders in need. 

This story of Andersson and Yoxall particularly caught the couple’s eye given they own a gun store and are staunch advocates of the Second Amendment. 

“When we realized it was a responsible, armed citizen who made the difference between life (or) death for Trooper Andersson that was for us really the truly compelling piece,” said Cheryl. 

The Avondale gun store will hold an appreciation day on June 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. As part of the celebration, they will be raffling off a Head Down PV9 Semi-Auto Rifle worth about $1,300. The Todds are hoping to raise as much as $20,000. Whatever they raise, every penny will go to Andersson.  

You can buy raffle tickets online. You do not need to be present to win. Winners must pass a background check and adhere to all gun laws. Click/tap here to purchase a ticket. 

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

Click to learn more about Donna.

Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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