Border Vigilante on Trial in Deadly Arizona Home Invasion
'Minuteman' Shawna Forde charged in deaths of 10-year-old girl and her father.
Jan. 27, 2011— -- 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.
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