Former lawmaker, man who shot her speak during Suns arena debate

Jan 23, 2019, 7:19 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2019, 8:20 am
Mary Rose Wilcox, in a 2014 file photo (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Mary Rose Wilcox, in a 2014 file photo (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – A bizarre scene played out during Wednesday’s Phoenix City Council meeting when a former councilwoman and the man who shot her two decades ago both took part in discussions about the downtown arena renovation plan.

Mary Rose Wilcox was on the Council when funding for the Phoenix Suns’ arena was first approved, and she was on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in 1997 when they voted for a sales tax to build the downtown baseball stadium.

Wilcox appeared at the meeting to speak in support of the new $235 million renovation, which ended up passing by a 6-2 vote.

Under the plan, the city will contribute $150 million from its Sports Facilities Fund, which is made up of tourism taxes on hotels and rental cars, toward the total cost. The Suns will cover the rest.

During the public comment session, Wilcox said the tourism tax she helped pass was in part designed to pay for renovations when the time came.

“I ask you to keep the promise of the council that voted on this and renovate this building with this tax,” she said. “It’s needed.”

Just a few speakers after Wilcox finished, Larry Naman was called to the microphone by Interim Mayor Thelda Williams, who didn’t seem know recognize his name.

Naman spent 12 years in prison for shooting Wilcox because she voted for the baseball stadium tax.

At his trial in 1998, he alluded to the tax repeatedly in his opening and closing statements and when he called himself to the stand, saying “Violence was justified in this case.”

He picked right up on that theme Wednesday, taking the chamber by surprise.

“The public must be allowed to vote on this,” he said. “If you go ahead and pass this, you are crossing the line and carrying out the equivalent of an act of violence against the public.”

He then calmly described how he shot Wilcox on Aug. 13, 1997, as part of his rambling comments, during which he said he was afraid Arizona Diamondbacks founder Jerry Colangelo and the state’s political leaders would have him assaulted and killed in jail.

He repeated his mantra that passing the Suns arena proposal would be the equivalent of a violent act several times during his bizarre diatribe.

After Naman finished, Councilman Michael Nowakowski interjected before the next speaker to apologize to Wilcox.

“She did what she thought was right, and we as elected officials have to vote on tough issues and we shouldn’t be threatened,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for Marria...
Kevin Stone

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says leaving Democratic Party won’t change how she serves Arizona

Newly minted independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said her decision to leave the Democratic Party won’t change the way she serves her constituents.
8 hours ago
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)...

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, registers as independent

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced Friday she is registering as an independent, leaving the Democratic Party but promising her work won't change.
8 hours ago
FILE - Border Patrol agents patrol along a line of shipping containers stacked near the border on A...
Kevin Stone

Arizona border sheriff backs protesters impeding shipping container installation

A southern Arizona sheriff said protesters have been keeping crews from stacking shipping containers at the U.S.-Mexico border, and he's good with it.
8 hours ago
(AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)...

Guatemalan man facing charges after allegedly assaulting Arizona border patrol agent

A Guatemalan man was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting a border patrol agent while he was illegally crossing the border.
8 hours ago
(Arizona Department of Transportation Flickr Photo)...

No scheduled closures on Phoenix-area freeways for third consecutive weekend

Phoenix-area drivers won't have to worry about closures on freeways for a third straight weekend as there are no scheduled projects.
8 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Ballet Arizona -- Twitter Photo/@ArizonaCoyotes)...

Weekend guide: Here are the biggest events around metro Phoenix for Dec. 9-11

The Arizona Coyotes are back in town, more holiday festivities are underway and museums could be your next favorite winter go-to spot.
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Former lawmaker, man who shot her speak during Suns arena debate