The man who shot and severely beat an Arizona state trooper last week was a former member of the Mexican federal police who was in the country illegally, authorities said.
He had rolled his car on Interstate 10 before he inexplicably attacked the officer who had stopped to help.
Leonard Pennelas-Escobar opened fire on Trooper Edward Andersson early Thursday after the officer had stopped on the interstate and set up flares in a bid to get motorists to slow down. Pennelas-Escobar said something unrecognizable in Spanish before shooting the trooper, and then he started landing blows with his fists and beating the trooper’s head on the ground, Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said Monday.
A passing motorist who witnessed the attack retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and fired two shots at Pennelas-Escobar after he refused an order to stop attacking Andersson. With Pennelas-Escobar incapacitated, the motorist tended to the wounded trooper but was later drawn back into the dispute when Pennelas-Escobar got up and resumed his assault on Andersson. The motorist then fired a fatal shot at Pennelas-Escobar.
The 37-year-old Pennelas-Escobar was in the country illegally, a drug user and was believed to have once worked as a Mexican police officer, Milstead said. Still, Pennelas-Escobar had no known criminal history.
Andersson, a 27-year department veteran, suffered gunshot wounds to the right shoulder and chest. He underwent surgery and has since been released from the hospital.