Driver who shot and beat Arizona Trooper was in the country illegally

Last week I wrote about Arizona State Trooper Edward Andersson who was shot while placing flares down on the road at the scene of a car wreck. Fortunately, a passing motorist saw Andersson being beaten by the shooter and stopped to help. The motorist then used his own gun to shoot the attacker. The man who shot and then beat Trooper Andersson has now been identified as Leonardo Penuelas-Escobar, an illegal immigrant with a known drug habit. Arizona Central reports on the latest information provided by Col. Frank Milstead of the Arizona Department of Public Safety:

The attacker was Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, a 37-year-old man who was believed to be in the country illegally and was a known methamphetamine user, Milstead said.

Penuelas-Escobar previously had tried to enter the U.S. once and was turned away but had been living in Glendale for at least a year and a half, Milstead said. He had no criminal history and formerly was a federal police officer in Mexico, Milstead said.

It was unclear if he ever had been deported.

Investigators believe Penuelas-Escobar was driving a vehicle at a high speed Thursday when it rolled over. He was wearing a seat belt and did not sustain serious injuries in the crash, but a woman in the car was not restrained and was ejected from the vehicle, eventually dying from her injuries.

The woman who had been riding in the car with Penuelas-Escobar has also been identified as 23-year-old Vanessa Monique Lopez-Ruiz. She also had a known methamphetamine habit.

The motorist who shot and killed Penuelas-Escobar has not been named yet but AZCentral reports he is a religious person who believes he was put there by God at that moment to rescue Trooper Anderssen. After the motorist shot him twice, Penuelas-Escobar again attacked Trooper Andersson. At that point the unnamed motorist shot Penuelas-Escobar in the head, killing him. “He knows that he did the right thing,” Col. Milstead told AZ Central, adding, “He is trying to reconcile that in his mind, which, it’s difficult to take a life, even when you know it’s the right thing to do.”

So far, no clear motive has been identified in the shooting. Police suspect Penuelas-Escobar may have been using drugs which contributed to the car crash and to his subsequent attack on the Trooper.