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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from May 31-June 2

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the state’s new budget, a mass shooting that left 12 people dead in Virginia Beach and the city of Surprise set to break ground on a memorial for a fallen veteran.

Here are some stories that headlined the news cycle, both locally and nationally, over the weekend.


Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs $11.8 billion state budget

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the state’s $11.8 billion budget Friday morning after the plan was passed by lawmakers on Memorial Day.

“On Monday, lawmakers passed a fiscally conservative, balanced budget. Today, I’m proud to sign it,” Ducey said in a video.

“This is by far the best budget I have signed, and such a contrast to where our state was just four years ago.”

Ducey celebrated the budget’s $1 billion Rainy Day Fund along with $165 million to fund 20% teacher pay raises by the 2020 school year.

“This budget learns from the mistakes of the past, and it makes a historic down payment on Arizona’s future,” he said.

“It’s proof that Arizona knows how to come together to do the things that matter.”


12 people killed in Virginia Beach shooting; suspect dead

A longtime city employee opened fire in a municipal building in Virginia Beach on Friday, killing 12 people on three floors and sending terrified co-workers scrambling for cover before police shot and killed him following a “long gun-battle,” authorities said.

Four other people were wounded in the shooting, including a police officer whose bulletproof vest saved his life, said Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera. The city’s visibly shaken mayor, Bobby Dyer, called it “the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach.”

The shooting happened shortly after 4 p.m. when the veteran employee of the Public Utilities Department entered a building in the city’s Municipal Center, and “immediately began to indiscriminately fire upon all of the victims,” Cervera said. Authorities did not release the suspect’s name, instead choosing to focus on the victims during a news conference.

Police entered the building and got out as many employees as they could, then exchanged fire with the suspect, who was armed with a .45 caliber handgun, the chief said.

Police initially said the gunman shot and killed 11 people, including one who was found inside a vehicle outside the municipal building. Cervera later said one more died on the way to the hospital.


Northern Arizona enjoys unusually wet, record-setting May

It’s a toss up whether northern Arizona will get a white Christmas, but a white Memorial Day? Keep dreaming.

But that’s what happened up north last Monday, the conclusion to an unusually precipitous May across Arizona’s high country.

Several areas in northern Arizona, including Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon, saw higher than average precipitation totals for the month.

Prescott, Phantom Ranch and the Grand Canyon all recorded their wettest May in history.

“We haven’t seen a May like this in quite some time,” Mark O’Malley with the National Weather Service in Phoenix told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

Almost every destination up north receives on average fewer than an inch of precipitation in May, but most blew past that.


Surprise to break ground on memorial for fallen veteran

The city of Surprise will break ground this month on a memorial for a veteran who devoted his life to serving his country and helping other wounded veterans find healing.

Brian Mancini was a medically retired Army Sergeant First Class and Surprise resident who suffered life-threatening injuries from a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2007.

Mancini founded Honor House, a place where wounded veterans could go for therapy and counseling, after recovering from his injuries.

Mancini, who suffered from PTSD, committed suicide in 2017 at age 38.

The groundbreaking for the memorial, called Veterans Reflection Circle, will be held June 24 at 9 a.m. at the Northwest Regional Library in Surprise.

The memorial will be built in Surprise Community Park and will open on Veterans Day.


Milstead: Arizona ruling on marijuana extracts doesn’t change DUI laws

The director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety says the state Supreme Court’s recent ruling that patients with medical marijuana cards can’t be arrested for possessing cannabis extracts doesn’t change DUI laws.

“It is a daily issue for our troopers out there. They’re finding people out there who are impaired,” Col. Frank Milstead told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show on Friday.

“Just because the Supreme Court said you can now possess those with your medical marijuana card, it does not mean that you can drive impaired or drive under the influence of those.”

The unanimous ruling reversed a lower-court decision that found cardholders faced arrest for hashish possession because the drug isn’t named in the state’s 2010 voter-approved medical pot law.

The court’s interpretation now lets medical marijuana patients use the drug to treat debilitating medical conditions in whatever form best suits them.

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