A Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy was shot and wounded today by suspected drug runners smuggling an unknown quantity of marijuana through the desert.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office identified the injured Deputy as Louie Puroll, 53, a fifteen year veteran of the department. PCSO spokeswoman Lt. Tamatha Villar said that Puroll was doing well, and had been transported to Casa Grande Regional Medical Center for treatment.
She described his injury as a "grazing wound" on the left side of his body above the kidney. Puroll identified the weapon as a high-powered assault rifle, possibly an AK-47.
Puroll was on patrol in the desert when he came across "five Hispanic males, possibly undocumented" transporting a load of marijuana.
He also saw two long gun rifles on them, according to Villar. They fired on Puroll. Puroll returned fire, but is not sure if he hit the suspects.
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A manhunt is underway, with Pinal County being joined by the Border Patrol, MCSO, Arizona DPS, the Casa Grande Police Department, and other agencies. Villar said there was no vehicle involved. The men were on foot.
Fortunately, Puroll was not killed or injured more seriously than he was, but you can bet that this incident will become a battle cry in the ongoing debate over SB 1070, Arizona's new immigration law.
That law would have done nothing to prevent an incident like the one today. Nor would it have saved the life of southern Arizona rancher Rob Krentz, who was murdered, many believe, by drug or human smugglers.
But that won't matter for the debate, as we soon shall see.