Local News

    Arizona Senate candidate who killed his mother supports ‘good guys’ with guns

    A big crowd gathered in a Tucson church last week, ready to hear candidates’ plans for gun-control legislation from people vying to become lawmakers at the state Capitol. 
    All was going more or less as expected. Then, it was Bobby Wilson’s turn to speak.
    Wilson, one of two Republican candidates who attended the July 9 meeting, took the mic and told a story of how he shot and killed a crazed attacker in an act of self-defense while a teenager.
    That attacker, it turned out, was his mother.
    He said his life story illustrates the importance of having “a good guy there with a gun” rather than gun-control legislation.
    “You can pass all the laws you want to in this world, and when you’ve got somebody out there that wants to harm somebody, they’re going to do it if you don’t stop them,” Wilson told the crowd. 
    MORE: Bland: Letter from McCain shows how little changed in 20 years of gun debate
    The audience was shocked, as video posted online showed. The crowd, brought together by Moms Demand Action, a nationwide movement against gun violence, burst into boos and heckles. 
    But there is more to Wilson’s story — a lot more.
    The tale begins in Hugo, Oklahoma, in 1963, when Wilson was 18 years old. It includes charges of familial murder, a home destroyed by fire, years of amnesia and the start of a winding path that led a young man to a legal career and, now, ambitions to serve in the Arizona Legislature.
    The candidate told only part of this story to the Tucson audience.
    “(She) was hell-bent on killing me in my sleep one night. At three o’clock in the morning, I woke up to find a rifle in my face — a semiautomatic rifle at that — and the bullets started to fly, and I started diving for cover,” Wilson said.
    A clip of Wilson’s remarks was posted on Twitter by a reporter with the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star.
    He said he dodged six bullets before reaching for the gun under his bed, which he then used to shoot his mother. He said if not for that gun, he’d be dead.
    Both his 49-year-old mother and 17-year-old sister died that night, as Wilson recalled in a 2010 memoir about the event. The book, “Bobby’s Trials,” was published by Apache Publishing Company, a small Arizona-based publisher operated by Wilson’s wife. The publisher has printed four other books by Wilson.
    In his memoir, Wilson wrote that his mother suffered debilitating depression and fits of intense rage. He has also called her “deranged” and a “fugitive hiding in the backwoods of S.E. Oklahoma.”
    Court records and newspaper articles from the time suggest there may be more to the story than Wilson’s account.
    Those records show he was charged with the murder of his mother and sister, and soon after his arrest he confessed to those charges. He later recanted his confession and claimed he had amnesia about the events of the night in question.
    The charges against him ultimately were dismissed by an Oklahoma judge.