Border Vigilante Leader Charged with Arizona Murders

  • June 15, 2009

Detectives in Pima County, Arizona, arrested anti-immigration border vigilante Shawna Forde for the shocking murder of a man and his nine-year-old daughter, and the shooting of the child's mother.

Forde, 41, along with Jason Eugene Bush, 34, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, have been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary, and one count of aggravated assault each.

Detectives arrested Bush on June 11, 2009, and Forde and Gaxiola the following day.

According to authorities, the three defendants, disguised as law enforcement officers, forcibly entered a home in Aravaca, Arizona, late on the night of May 30. The family was inside at the time. Gunfire erupted and the man and his young daughter were killed. The man's wife was shot, but not fatally, and returned fire during the melee.

Forde is a Washington-based Minuteman leader frequently active in Arizona along the United States-Mexican border. She is a co-founder and current National Executive Director of Minuteman American Defense (MAD), a border vigilante group, and has also been a member or associate of several other such groups.

One of Forde's activities has been coordinating vigilante border patrols in Arizona. In an Internet radio interview in January 2009, Forde explained, "I have many weapons that I borrow when I go down on the border…All of our Minutemen all have weapons and long arms and all that kind of stuff."

Forde is accused of being the ringleader in the violent planned home invasion robbery and murder spree. Authorities suspect the home invasion had the objective of stealing money and drugs to fund further anti-immigrant activities.

Bush, MAD's operations director, is accused of carrying out the actual shooting. He was shot in the leg during the incident. He is additionally being held on a probation violation warrant out of Washington State for an auto theft charge.

Forde's credibility within the anti-immigration movement has been in question over the last couple of years after she reported a number of violent incidents directed at her. Some have voiced concern that Forde might have been fabricating details of some of the alleged incidents.