In light of a perceived friendship between former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce and slain neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, Pearce released the following statement late Wednesday night.
"Our prayers and thoughts are with the surviving family members and friends of the victims of today's horrific and evil act. There are no words to adequately express the sadness we share, as a community, with those affected.
"I spent much of my day resisting efforts by those in the media to get me to make a statement. Today's events have nothing to do with me and no connection to me. Yet TV news crews started coming to my home seeking comments and my telephone rang nonstop with calls from those who were desperate to score the ugliest of political points off of this tragedy. Now my name is being mentioned in coverage and I have no choice but to respond.
"Regarding whether I knew JT Ready, I did, as did many of us who have been involved in Mesa politics for a long time. When we first met JT he was fresh out of the Marine Corp and seemed like a decent person. He worked as a telephone fundraiser for Christian and pro-life groups, he dated the daughter of one of our District 18 members, and his attitudes and spoken opinions were good and decent. At some point in time darkness took his life over, his heart changed, and he began to associate with the more despicable groups in society. They were intolerant and hateful and like so many who knew him from before, I was upset and disappointed at the choices he was making. I worked with others to have him removed from his local position within our Republican Party because there has never been and will never be any room in our Party or our lives for those preaching hatred. He was angry with me and stayed angry with me, and it has been several years since I have had reason to speak with JT.
"In the past several years the local media has worked hard to try to tie me to the JT Ready that preached hate, and that is nothing more than a lie. When I learned the truth about him, I made it clear how wrong I thought it was and I worked to remove him from our Party. Yet the lie is told and retold over and over again. It is the ugliest form of politics. The most radical groups I have ever belonged to are the Boy Scouts of America and the Fraternal Order of Police, and in my 65 years in Mesa, as a law enforcement deputy, as a judge and as the head of state agencies, I have never been accused of mistreating anyone or of unfair conduct toward anyone I have associated with, hired or supervised.
"Finally, while I am frequently critical of the job the mainstream media does in pursuing a political agenda instead of the truth, today's behavior is the most reprehensible that I have ever witnessed. On the very day that these unspeakable crimes take place, editors and producers all over town are making a concerted effort to make the story about a politician whose conservative politics they disagree with.
"Today, the Devil won and claimed the soul of one young man and the lives of others, including the most innocent of all, a child. Our thoughts and prayers are with the four beautiful souls that are now in God's hands. We pray that He accepts them into his kingdom and that He grants comfort and solace to the friends and surviving family."