By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone
Phoenix, AZ – A critically-wounded 22-year-old Phoenix police officer who was placed on life support after being shot eight times while trying to apprehend a suspect in 2021 finally returned home from a medical rehabilitation center on Thursday.
Phoenix Police Department (PPD) Officer Tyler Moldovan, whose many gunshot wounds included a round to the head, was initially given little chance of survival in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2021 attack, KSAZ reported.
The young officer spent approximately one month on life support and remained hospitalized until January, when he was transferred to a rehabilitation center to continue his recovery.
He now relies on a wheelchair and has limited mobility, but his recovery has been nothing shy of miraculous.
On June 2, Officer Moldovan flew into Deer Valley Airport and was finally transported home by an ambulance, KSAZ reported.
“We are just so grateful for a miracle from God. We’re thankful that he made it,” local resident Steve Cameron told the news outlet. “He has a long road to recovery most likely. The fact that he is home — we need good valuable cops like that out there, and we’re so grateful for his service.”
“We’re just happy for him. We are happy that he survived, and praying for all the officers on the road right now,” Cameron added. “We’re grateful for these men and women that are out there.”
The incident began at approximately 2 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2021, when police received reports of vehicles doing donuts and speeding in the area of Camelback Road and 19th Avenue, KNXV reported at the time.
When responding officers arrived to the scene, there were no vehicles there, just skid marks and smoke in the air.
Shortly thereafter, police received another call about the same suspect vehicles near 15th Avenue and Camelback Road, KNXV reported.
Officers spotted a black Dodge Charger pulling into a parking lot in the area and followed it.
Charging documents said the officers saw 24-year-old Essa Kolareh Eugene Williams get out of the car and jump the fence into an apartment complex, KNXV reported.
The officers said they could see a gun case inside the Charger, according to the affidavit.
Police set up a perimeter and began searching for the suspect, KNXV reported.
Officer Moldovan found Williams hiding on a covered patio a few minutes later.
Court documents said that Williams was on his cell phone telling someone that he was going to jail when Officer Moldovan approached, KNXV reported.
Officer Moldovan asked Williams if he had any weapons and the suspect answered “no.”
Then Williams pulled a gun from his waistband, pointed it at the officer, and started firing, KNXV reported.
Officer Moldovan fell to the ground after the first shot but Williams loomed over him and continued firing at the wounded officer.
Charging documents said that after Williams shot Officer Moldovan multiple times, he jumped out from the patio, dropped his gun, and began trying to pull the wounded officer’s gun from his holster, KNXV reported.
That was when another officer arrived and saw Williams standing over the wounded officer.
Charging documents said the second officer saw Williams yank harder at the downed officer’s holster, trying to take his weapon, KNXV reported.
William threw himself on the ground as the second officer attempted to arrest him.
He resisted arrest and tried to get away, but a third officer arrived on the scene and was able to help the second officer get Williams into handcuffs, KNXV reported.
Officials said that no officers fired their weapons during the incident, the Arizona Republic reported.
Police found another handgun with an extended magazine on the patio where Williams had been hiding, KTVK reported.
Once in custody, Williams claimed someone else had shot the wounded officer and begged police to shoot him.
Williams was charged with multiple crimes that included attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest, KNXV reported.
He was booked into the Maricopa County Jail, the Arizona Republic reported.
Court records showed that Williams went to prison for three years in 2017 for armed robbery, aggravated assault, and endangerment committed in 2014 and 2015.
Arizona Department of Corrections records showed he was released from prison in April of 2020, the Arizona Republic reported.
As a convicted felon, he was banned from having a gun, KNXV reported.