Phoenix police officer remains in critical condition after being shot multiple times

Phoenix police say the officer who was shot multiple times remains in the hospital Wednesday...
Phoenix police say the officer who was shot multiple times remains in the hospital Wednesday morning. He is still listed in critical condition.(Phoenix Police Department)
Updated: Dec. 14, 2021 at 4:26 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A Phoenix police officer remains in critical condition at the hospital after being shot early Tuesday morning. Police say the shooting occurred in the area of 15th Avenue and Camelback Road just after 2 a.m.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams says 22-year-old Tyler Moldovan was shot multiple times and is in the hospital fighting for his life. Moldovan has been with Phoenix police for about a year and half. Moldovan graduated from police academy in March and just finished field training.

“The irony of this whole thing is that our officers put this uniform on everyday not knowing what’s going to happen to them on any given shift,” said Chief Williams. “They’re our true heroes.”

In a press release Tuesday afternoon, Phoenix Police Sgt. Vincent Cole, says after 2 a.m. officers received multiple calls about vehicles driving erratically near 19th Avenue and Camelback Road. Officers found a car matching one of the descriptions with a vehicle parked in an apartment complex near 15th Avenue and Camelback. Cole says no one was in the car so officers started to search the area.

“Officer Moldovan found the suspect hiding behind a short wall of an apartment patio. Officer Moldovan began giving commands to the suspect, who then pulled out a gun and began shooting. Officer Moldovan was struck by multiple bullets.”

When officers heard the shooting, they ran in that direction and were able to take the suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Essa Williams, into custody. Sgt. Cole said investigators found a gun near where Williams was arrested. Moldovan was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital where he remains in critical condition.

“This kind of incident sends shockwaves throughout our entire community, there are no words when this kind of incident happens,” Williams said. “But, I do have to remind you that we are a few days away from the holidays. So, the details that I know them, as we stand, just before 2 o’clock this morning, several officers were searching an apartment complex when the suspect opened fire on Moldovan and shot him multiple times. The other officers on-scene acted quickly and were able to get the suspect into custody.”

“We’re asking you to keep the Moldovan family, Tyler, Chelsey, the 61 King Squad, the Phoenix Police department and the entire community in your thoughts and prayers, Williams continued. “And I can say this: Tyler is doing exactly what we expect our police officers to do. And that’s fight and that’s continue to fight.”

According to prosecutor John Schneider in a hearing on Tuesday night, Essa Williams was caught on body-cam footage shooting Officer Moldovan. “Mr. Williams is on video shooting the victim police officer multiple times. He continued to shoot the officer even after the officer was on the ground. He fought with police officers when they attempted to apprehend him,” Schneider said.

Officials say Williams had nine prior felonies on four different occasions, and was on probation at the time of the shooting. According to Schneider, two of Williams’ felonies were for armed robbery.

“He’s heard on body camera before the crimes occurred, saying something like he was going back to jail. A short time later he shot at police presumably to avoid any apprehension,” said Schneider.

As the President of The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Britt London spent the morning in the hospital with other officers following the shooting. “It’s always very somber at the hospital,” said London. “People are wanting to get information. There are all kinds of emotions present, and it was the same here.”

Williams says no officers fired any of their weapons and homicide detectives are piecing things together. The investigation is in the early stages.

Officer Moldovan’s peers describe him as ambitious and hardworking. “He was just so gung-ho,” said London.  “He loved this job. His first year into working on the street, he really enjoyed it. He attacked it with a fervor. He really liked the patrol work.”

The police department says officer Moldovan is married, and his family lives here in Arizona. “The prayers, hopes and positivity, that’s really what Tyler and his family need right now,” said London.

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association’s President issued the following statement regarding Officer Moldovan:

The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association is saddened by the shooting of Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Moldovan. Officer Moldovan is a rising star within the department, representing the next-generation of public safety leaders committed to serving and protecting our community. The men and women of the Phoenix Police Department are selfless and brave community servants who go above and beyond each day, risking their lives to keep our neighborhoods safe. We thank each of them for continued service during these challenging times. This is a difficult day for our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, and we will continue to keep Officer Moldovan and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

The area was restricted to traffic due to the investigation. According to data kept by Arizona’s Family, this is the 52nd officer-involved shooting in Maricopa County this year.

Police say Williams is being booked into the Maricopa County Jail on multiple charges, including attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, possession of a prohibited weapon and resisting arrest.

Williams bond has been set at $3 million for the shooting, but his probation violations were deemed non-bondable by the judge.