THATCHER - A southern Arizona sheriff was expected to be released from a hospital Tuesday after he was shot when he pulled over to look into a disabled vehicle.
Graham County Sheriff Frank Hughes was wounded north of Thatcher around 11:30 p.m. Monday in an attempt to help a driver whose vehicle was pulled over with either its trunk or hood open, said Tim Graver, a commander who works for the sheriff.
The 53-year-old sheriff had reached into his own vehicle, possibly to get a flashlight, when the driver of the disabled vehicle walked up behind him with a shotgun and pointed it in the sheriff's face. Hughes managed to pull the gun down toward his body before the gunman fired, Graver said.
The bulletproof vest worn by the sheriff took all the trauma from the shotgun blast. "He's doing fine," Graver said.
The son of an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer and a friend were driving down the road just minutes later when they saw the sheriff lying on the ground. Graver said there was no other traffic in the area when the shooting occurred.
Hughes, who is being treated at Mount Graham Regional Medical Center in Safford, frequently works the late-night hours. He has been sheriff for 12 years.
Suspects in the shooting are being sought. Cochise County sheriff's spokeswoman Carol Capas said law enforcement in nearby counties were on the lookout for a dark blue Nissan sedan occupied by a man and a woman that was involved in the shooting.