Interstate 10 in western Arizona is a long stretch of highway traveling through miles of open desert. Once you drive about 30 miles from downtown Phoenix, buildings and houses give way to creosote bushes, Palo Verde trees and cactus. It’s the type of open terrain that lure a driver into unknown sleep if he or she is not careful. At night, it can be a lonely place, except for those who leave early on their way to the busy Los Angeles metropolitan area.
In the early cold morning of January 12, 2017 (yes, it can and does get cold in the desert at night this time of year), Thomas Yoxall was heading to a conference in Anaheim, California. In 2002, Yoxall was an avid hunter who was charged with felony theft. In 2003, his case plead down to a misdemeanor, which allowed him to petition the courts to reinstate his gun rights, and they were.
Around 4:30am, Yoxall was nearing the small town of Tonopah, about 50 or so miles west of Phoenix when he saw a police car with lights flashing come up from behind and then pass on ahead of him. Yoxall thought to himself that someone was about to have a bad start to their day.
The officer in the police car was Arizona State Trooper Ed Andersson. He was responding to a call of someone shooting at cars on the highway. When Andersson arrived at the location, he spotted an overturned car on the side of the highway. He saw a man kneeling down, holding an injured woman. His first thought was that the woman was thrown from the car as it overturned and the man was in the car with her. Andersson stopped his patrol car in the slow lane to block traffic and set out flares. He also radioed in for a medical helicopter to respond to the scene.
Then Andersson approached the injured woman but did not see where the man went. Using his flashlight, he located the man standing in the emergency lane of the road, aiming a gun straight him. Then it happened. The man fired, hitting Trooper Andersson in the right shoulder. The injury made it impossible for him to use his right arm or draw his service weapon.
Andersson later stated:
“A half inch to my right it would have missed me, a few inches to my left, it would have hit my vest.”
As the shooter approached, Andersson realized that the shooter was out of bullets, but he was far from out of danger. He knew that if the shooter were to get his service weapon, that it would be all over for him, so he managed to roll onto his right side to hide his weapon under him. The shooter approached and began beating Andersson in the head.
Then out of the morning darkness, two shots rang out and the shooter fell dead where he stood. It was Thomas Yoxall, a charged felon who saved the life of Arizona State Trooper Ed Andersson.
Yoxall had found God and turned his life around. He went to the courts and pleaded before a judge to restore his gun rights and the judge did. Being forgiven and having his rights restored, Yoxall was allowed to own a firearm, which he had in the center console of truck that morning. As he drove past the flares and flashing lights, he saw a man on top of the state trooper, repeatedly hitting him in the head, so he pulled over, retrieved his gun and yelled at the man to stop and get off of him. The attacker looked at Yoxall, who described the man’s look, the look in his eyes as nothing but evil, and then returned to hitting Andersson. Yoxall called out to the trooper and asked if he needed help and Andersson said yes. The attacker shouted at the trooper to shut up and hit him again. Yoxall moved to his left to make sure the trooper was not in the line of fire and pulled the trigger on his gun. The attacker slumped over dead, leaving Andersson bleeding from the head and shoulder.
Remember the medical helicopter that Trooper Andersson had radioed for earlier? Little did he know that it would be him that was flown to emergency care. Andersson went into immediate surgery for his wounds and also received over 100 staples and stitches, but he was alive, thanks to a nearly convicted felon who found God, was forgiven by God and the courts and allowed to once again carry a gun.
At one point, Andersson thought his life was over, later stating:
“As much as I fought, at one point I probably couldn’t have gone on anymore. I probably wouldn’t be here (if not for him).”
Since that time, State Trooper Ed Andersson and Thomas Yoxall have become lifelong friends as have their families.
Col. Frank Milstead Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety commented:
“Thomas didn’t help Ed out based on whose side he was on. He did it because it was a gut instinct that told him he needed to get involved. It’s beautiful, it’s pure.”
Yoxall said it best:
“People who know me best know I’ve come full circle in my life.”
“God chose to put me in that place at that particular moment. I just can’t see an evil like that perpetuated without intervening.”
The man who attacked Trooper Andersson, purposely left unnamed in this report, was an illegal alien who had been evicted from his apartment for selling drugs. His girlfriend was the injured woman first spotted by Trooper Andersson on the roadside. She later died from her injuries.
America needs more people like Thomas Yoxall!