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Phoenix police officer on life support after being shot 8 times, including one shot to the head

Officer Tyler Moldovan was rushed to the hospital after being shot near the intersection of 15th Avenue and Camelback Road, the Phoenix Police Department said.

PHOENIX — Authorities have identified a man accused of shooting and critically injuring a Phoenix Police officer early Tuesday morning.

Essa Williams, 24, is facing multiple charges, including attempted first-degree murder after detectives said he shot Officer Tyler Moldovan multiple times. 

Officers were called to a neighborhood near 19th Avenue, south of Camelback Road, for reports of vehicles driving erratically and doing donuts after 2 a.m.

While investigating, patrol officers located a car matching the description of one of the vehicles parked at an apartment complex near 15th Avenue and Camelback Road. No one was in the car, police said. 

As officers searched the surrounding areas, police said Officer Moldovan found Williams hiding behind a short wall of a covered apartment patio. 

Officer Moldovan gave Williams commands to exit the patio, when the suspect pulled out a gun and began shooting, striking the officer multiple times, investigators said. The interaction allegedly lasted seconds. 

The sound of the gunfire alerted other officers on the scene who then ran in that direction. The officers were able to subdue Williams without firing their weapons. 

Moldovan was rushed to St. Joseph's hospital and is currently on life support the department said. He was shot eight times, including one shot to the head.

"Tyler is doing exactly what we expect our police officers to do, and that is to continue to fight," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said.

Phoenix police gave an update on the investigation Tuesday afternoon saying situations like this highlight the danger officers face every day. They asked for the public to keep Officer Moldovan and his family in their prayers as he continues to recover. 

Detectives recovered a handgun near where Officer Moldovan was shot, authorities said. 

Officer Moldovan was wearing a body camera. Police said the video was reviewed to determine Williams was the suspect. 

No other arrests were made from the initial call, that authorities said. 

The department said Moldovan graduated from the police academy in March of this year and celebrated his 22nd birthday in November.

Williams said Officer Moldovan had recently become a solo officer. 

"The irony of this whole thing is that our officers put this uniform on every day not knowing what's going to happen to them on any given shift, they are true heroes," Chief Williams.

Police said Essa Williams was booked into jail for numerous charges including attempted first-degree murder, weapon violations, and resisting arrest.

Court records show Williams was convicted of aggravated assault, armed robbery, and endangerment and went to prison in 2017. He was released from the Department of Corrections in April 2020.

Williams is currently being held on a $3 million cash bond. 

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Anyone who has information on a crime or recognizes a suspect described by the program is asked to call 480-948-6377, go to the program's website online or download the Silent Witness app to provide a tip. The identity of anyone who submits a tip is kept anonymous. 

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