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Ariz. home invasion suspects tied to border group

Two of three people arrested in a southern Arizona home invasion that

left a little girl and her father dead had connections to a Washington

state anti-illegal immigration group that conducts border watch

activities in Arizona.

Jason Eugene Bush, 34, Shawna Forde, 41, and Albert Robert Gaxiola,

42, have been charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and

other charges, said Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Ariz.

The trio are alleged to have dressed as law enforcement officers and

forced their way into a home about 10 miles north of the Mexican

border in rural Arivaca on May 30, wounding a woman and fatally

shooting her husband and their 9-year-old daughter.

Their motive was financial, Dupnik said.

“The husband who was murdered has a history of being involved in

narcotics and there was an anticipation that there would be a

considerable amount of cash at this location as well as the

possibility of drugs,” Dupnik said.

Forde is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a small border

watch group, and Bush goes by the nickname “Gunny” and is its

operations director, according to the group’s Web site.

She is from Everett, Wash., has recently been living in Arizona and

was once associated with the better known and larger Minuteman Civil

Defense Corps.

A statement attributed to officers of Forde’s group and posted on its

Web site on Saturday extended condolences to the victims’ families and

said the group doesn’t condone such acts and will cooperate with law

enforcement.

“This is not what Minutemen do,” said member Chuck Stonex, who

responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press sent through the Web

site. “Minutemen observe, document and report. This is nothing more

than a cold-hearted criminal act, and that is all we want to say.”

The assailants planned to leave no one alive, Dupnik said at a press

conference in Tucson on Friday. He said Forde was the ringleader.

“This was a planned home invasion where the plan was to kill all the

people inside this trailer so there would be no witnesses,” Dupnik

said. “To just kill a 9-year-old girl because she might be a potential

witness to me is just one of the most despicable acts that I have

heard of.”

Dupnik said Forde continued working through Friday to raise a large

amount of money to make her anti-illegal immigrant operation more

sophisticated.

Forde denied involvement as she was led from sheriff’s headquarters.

“No, I did not do it,” she said. “I had nothing to do with it.”

Gaxiola also denied involvement; Bush was arrested at a Kingman,

Ariz., hospital where he was being treated for a leg wound he

allegedly received when the woman who survived the attack managed to

get a gun and fire back.

Killed were 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her 29-year-old father,

Raul Junior Flores. The name of the wounded woman who survived the

attack hasn’t been released.

Forde is well known in the anti-illegal immigration community, said

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and

Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

“She’s someone who even within the anti-immigration movement has been

labeled as unstable,” Levin said. “She was basically forced out of

another anti-immigrant group, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and

then founded her own organization.”

Stonex, of Alamagordo, N.M., said he met Forde while on an Arizona

border watch operation last fall, and liked her despite her reputation

in the Minutemen community.

“I know she’s always had sort of a checkered past but I take people

for what I see and not what I hear,” the 57-year-old said.

She recruited him to start a new chapter in New Mexico, but was

secretive about her group or its members.

Stonex said he didn’t know how to recruit for a chapter and never did.

He said Forde called him on the day of the attack while he was

visiting Arizona and asked him to bring bandages to an Arivaca home

because Bush had been wounded.

Stonex said it appeared Bush had a relatively minor gunshot wound,

which he treated.

He said Forde and Bush told him Bush been wounded by a smuggler who

shot at him while the group were patrolling the desert.

Stonex said he didn’t suspect that might not be the case until was

contacted by a deputy on Saturday about their alleged involvement in

the crime.

reference: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090613/ap_on_re_us/us_fatal_home_invasion

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