Former Felon with Restored Gun Rights Saves Arizona State Trooper

Arizona resident Thomas Yoxall, who initially requested media anonymity, has emerged as the hero who saved the life of DPS Trooper Edward Andersson using his right to bear arms. There was a time, however, when Yoxall’s firearm rights were once restricted because of a felony theft conviction. In 2003, Yoxall had his gun rights restored after successfully completing probation and petitioning the judge to reduce his felony conviction to a misdemeanor. His guilty judgement was vacated, and his gun rights were restored to the fullest extent of the law.

It’s a good thing Yoxall’s rights were restored, as it allowed him to be prepared to take action in the early morning hours of January 12, 2017. Arizona Trooper Edward Andersson had pulled to the side of a highway in rural Arizona, responding to an overturned vehicle. The driver and passenger were outside the vehicle as Andersson approached the scene. Suddenly, ex-federal Mexican police officer Leanard Penuelas-Escobar began firing a handgun at Andersson, hitting him in the shoulder. Penuelas-Escobar, the driver of the car, then began beating Anderson and slamming his head into the pavement.

“I noticed the suspect on top of Trooper Andersson, beating him in a savage way,” Yoxall said. The attacker continued his assault on the Trooper as calls for help were heard. In response, Yoxall grabbed his handgun from the console of his car, and positioned himself to keep the Trooper out of his line-of-fire. Yoxall then shot at Penuelas-Escobar twice, putting him down. The heroic Yoxall then went to assist Trooper Andersson, only to see Penuelas-Escobar get up and come toward the two men. Yoxall then aimed straight at the assailant, and shot him in the head, killing him.

Penuelas-Escobar and the woman killed in the accident, Vanessa Lopez-Ruiz, were alleged meth users and drug dealers. Mr. Yoxall is being hailed as a hero for his actions in saving Trooper Andersson’s life. “My primary concern was for the life and wellness of Trooper Anderson, first and foremost,” Yoxall said. Although he stated that he would have acted the exact same way if it happened again, the notion of killing a man was a hard pill to swallow for Yoxall. “Doing the right thing sometimes has a price, and sometimes that price is severe. I wouldn’t change it because another man gets to go home to his family.” Yoxall continued, “it’s a right and a privilege to be a private gun owner,” and that comes with responsibility. About his past, Yoxall said his poor judgement “has not dictated my future, nor is it representative of the person I am today.”

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