When it comes to gun ownership, Arizona state Senate candidate Bobby Wilson says it’s important to have a “good guy with a gun” in dangerous situations.
Wilson pointed to a time in 1963 when he said he had to be such a guy — against his own mother.
Speaking at an event organized by Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for greater gun control, Wilson said his mother tried to kill him in 1963 when he was just 18 years old, the Arizona Republic reported.
“[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.
Wilson claimed he dodged six bullets before he was able to retrieve a gun he kept underneath his bed.
The Republican candidate told the Arizona Republic his mother, Lavonne, came into his room and began to shoot at him. At one point, he said she swung her gun around, striking his 17-year-old sister, Judy, in the back of her head. Judy died due to the impact to her head, Wilson said, recalling an autopsy report.
On his campaign website, he describes his mother as “deranged” and a “fugitive hiding in the backwoods of [southeastern] Oklahoma.”
During the shooting, Wilson told the newspaper glass containers of gasoline broke, spilling flammable liquid all over the floor. A spark from a light switch caused the house to explode, Wilson said.
According to the Arizona Republic, court records — which list his last name as Wiste — show Wilson was charged for murder in the deaths of his mother and sister. At first, Wilson confessed to the murders but later said he had no memory of the night.
While on trial, Wilson said he suffered from amnesia. A jury ruled he was “not capable of proceeding to trial and making a rational defense,” and the case was suspended. But seven years later, Wilson’s attorney said his client had been “deprived of his right to speedy trial,” and his witnesses had since died. The case was then dismissed.
Reports in the local paper at the time, the Choctaw County Weekly, contradicted Wilson’s account of the events. The bodies of Wilson’s mother and sister were found “in a ‘perfectly relaxed’ position, indicating they died in their sleep from suffocation,” the paper said, according to the Arizona Republic.
After moving to Texas and becoming a practicing lawyer, Wilson said he eventually gained his memory back. He detailed his version of that night in a 2010 book called “Bobby’s Trials.” Wilson eventually moved to Arizona and worked as a private investigator. He's currently teaching a paralegal program at Rio Salado College.
He says he’s a licensed gun owner but hasn’t had to act in self-defense since that day.
On Facebook, Wilson noted he was “the only Republican candidate who had the guts to appear” at the forum.
“I was greeted with boos and catcalls,” he said. “Loved it!”
Jacob Martinez, an organizer with March for Our Lives in Arizona, said he thinks Wilson’s experiences show the necessity of providing emotional help to those who need it — and ensuring guns in homes are safely locked away.
“He should know better than anybody that something needs to be done, and the fact that he can’t acknowledge that speaks volumes,” Martinez said.
Wilson is running in the 2nd District, a seat currently held by Democrat Sen. Andrea Dalessandro. He’s in a primary against Republican Shelley Kais.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.