Border Vigilante on Trial in Deadly Arizona Home Invasion

VIDEO: "Minuteman" Shawna Forde allegedly orchestrated a home invasion in Tucson, Ariz.
Share
Copy

Still reeling from the deadly shooting rampage of three weeks ago, Tucson, Ariz., has been riveted this week by the murder trial of a notorious border vigilante who allegedly orchestrated a home invasion that left a 10-year-old and her father dead.

Gina Gonzalez, who witnessed the killing of her husband and daughter at point-blank range, survived by playing dead in the kitchen after being shot three times in the leg. She took the stand this week, giving emotional testimony that identified one of the three suspects as Shawna Forde, the founder of Minutemen American Defense.

"He's all out of bullets by then because he used them on me and Junior," she said of one of the alleged gunmen who had shot and killed her husband, Raul "Junior" Flores, 29, before turning the barrel on their crying daughter, Brisenia. "He stands there and he loads the gun right in front of her."

"And is this something you can see happening?" Deputy Pima County Attorney Kellie Johnson asked.

"I just hear her telling him, 'Please don't shoot me, please don't shoot me.'" Then, Brisenia was shot in the head.

Prosecutors allege that Forde, 43, organized the May 2009 invasion as part of a scheme to rob suspected drug-trafficker Flores, who was rumored to have a stash of $4,000 in cash, and kill any witnesses.

She is accused of seeking the funds for her civilian militia group, which seeks to combat illegal immigration along the border.

Two other suspects -- Jason Bush, a known white-supremacist, and Albert Gaxiola, a convicted drug dealer -- are in custody awaiting trials later this spring. Like Forde, both men have pleaded not guilty.

In a 911 call recording played in court, Gonzalez could be heard using her husband's handgun to fire back on the men after they had left and returned to the home, continuing to ransack the house.

"They're coming back in, they're coming back in," she told dispatcher Tanya Remsburg. Several rounds of gunshots can be heard on the recording. "Get the f*** out of here, get the f*** out of here."

Gonzalez recounted that the family had been roused from their sleep by a trio dressed in camouflage and claiming to be law enforcement officers looking for fugitives.

"They told us that somebody had escaped jail or something, they wanted to come in and look at my house," she said on the call. "And they just shot my husband and they shot my daughter and they shot me. Oh, my God, ma'am, I can't believe this is happening. ... I can't believe they killed my family."

Lying in the kitchen bleeding from gunshot wounds to her leg, she described the suspects as a white male whose face was painted black, a six-foot tall Mexican man and a "shorter fat woman."

In the courtroom Wednesday, Gonzalez pointed to Forde and said she looked like the female suspect. Previously, however, she failed to pick Forde out of a police line-up.

Minutewoman Forde Allegedly Sought Drug Funds

"Essentially, this case is a doughnut, a lot of circumstantial evidence all around," Forde's attorney, Eric Larsen, said in his opening statement. "There is a hole, and that hole is Shawna Forde not being there at that home on May 30."

But prosecutors believe they have evidence that links Forde to the scene.

"Not only will the state prove to you that Shawna Forde was in that house that night, barking orders and telling people what to do," prosecutor Johnson said. "The state will prove that Shawna Forde organized and planned this event with other folks."

Johnson said a cell phone believed to belong to Forde contained text messages that implicate her in the invasion. She also said police recovered from Forde several items of Gonzalez's personal jewelry, including her wedding ring, during a search after her arrest.

If convicted, Forde could face the death penalty.

ABC News' Helen Zhang contributed to this report.

null
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...