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Russell Pearce Distances Himself From J.T. Ready, Shootings In Gilbert, Arizona

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Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce prepares to address the media late Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, after his recall.
Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce prepares to address the media late Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, after his recall.

Ousted Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) tried to distance himself on Wednesday from a former anti-unauthorized immigration ally J.T. Ready, who authorities believe shot four people before turning the gun on himself earlier in the day in Gilbert, Arizona.

(Above, Phoenix's Fox 10 reports on the past between Pearce and Ready)

"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," Pearce, who was an author of the state's contested immigration law S.B. 1070, said in a statement provided to the Associated Press. "In the past several years the local media has worked hard to try to tie me to the J.T. Ready that preached hate, and that is nothing more than a lie," he said later in the statement.

Pearce was briefly associated with Ready and appeared with him during a rally against unauthorized immigration, but has in the past few years disavowed him over Ready's extreme views. Ready ran a few times for elected office and was elected as a precinct committeeman in 2006. Reps. Jeff Flake and Trent Frank, along with former Rep. John Shadegg, all Arizona Republicans, called that year for him to be removed from his post.

Ready filed notice in January that he was considering a run for sheriff in Pinal County, Ariz., as a Democrat after switching parties.

Ready was characterized as a racist and "neo-Nazi" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which quotes him as saying in 2009 that the United States is a "white, European homeland" at a rally for the white nationalist group National Socialist Movement.

He was also a member of a border militia group called the Arizona Minutemen Project.

Pearce was tied to Ready over their shared opposition to unauthorized immigration. He was attacked during the 2008 election as a friend of neo-Nazis because of that association in a newsletter.

Pearce condemned Ready at that time, which he points out in his statement.

"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," he said. "Yet the lie is told and retold over and over again. It is the ugliest form of politics."

The case is still under investigation.

Official believe that Ready killed four people, including a 16-month-old infant, all of whom lived at the same address as Ready or nearby, witnesses told USA Today. A relative of Ready's, Hugo Mederos, told the paper that the police had identified the victims as Lisa Mederos, Hugo Mederos's 47-year-old former wife, who was reportedly dating Ready; Amber Mederos, her 23-year-old daughter; Jim Hiott, Amber's 24-year-old boyfriend; and Lilly, Amber's 16-month-old daughter. Officials tied the killing to a domestic dispute.

The U.S. Border Guard, another vigilante group, posted a statement on its website condemning the killings and saying members were "extremely saddened by the untimely loss of our founder," as pointed out by the Tucson Citizen.

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