Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Shawna Forde



By June 11, 2009, authorities believed they had enough evidence to prosecute Shawna Forde, Albert Gaxiola, and Jason Bush. The first one they took into custody was Bush, whom they arrested in Meadview. Soon after his arrest, Bush sat down for an interview with Det. Juan Carlos Navarro in which he detailed the entire crime and his deadly role in it.

Shawna Forde (left) and Albert Gaxiola
Shawna Forde (left) and Albert Gaxiola

In Bush's first recounting to police, he said that he had been positioned outside the Flores home when the fatal shots were fired, and that he had been shot in the leg when he had gone to see what was going on. After Det. Navarro prodded Bush a bit with facts contradicting that story, Bush admitted that it had been he and Forde who had knocked on Flores' door and identified themselves as U.S. Border Patrol. He then recounted shooting Flores, Gonzalez and Brisenia — although he made clear that he had not believed anyone would be in the house, that he had thought it had been strictly a plot to steal marijuana. He also told Navarro that the reason Gaxiola had had Bush go in first was that Flores wouldn't recognize him. Bush said he felt pressured to shoot the family because Gaxiola had told him, "It's them or you."

The day after he was arrested in Arizona, Bush was indicted for the 1997 murder of Hector Lopez in Wenatchee, Wash., where police believed Bush had ties to white supremacist groups. Prosecution in that case would be postponed until the resolution of the Arivaca home-invasion charges.

Authorities had followed Shawna Forde from her temporary residence, Room 129 at an America's Best Value Inn in the North Tucson area. On the afternoon of June 10, 2009, Det. Christopher Hogan saw Albert Gaxiola and his girlfriend Gina Moraga enter Forde's room. Less than a half-hour later, Gaxiola and Moraga left. On June 11, Forde met Gaxiola and Moraga at a home in Tucson. When she returned to the hotel, she was arrested. Authorities took her cell phone and sent a text to Gaxiola asking him to meet her at a McDonalds near her motel. When Gaxiola arrived, he was arrested as well.

Searching Forde's orange Honda Element, investigators found pieces of jewelry that Gina Gonzalez later identified as stolen from her home. After the arrest, Forde denied taking part in the shooting at the Flores residence, telling police that she was either in Tucson or California on May 30. She admitted knowing Jason Bush, whom she called a "stand-up guy," but said she hadn't seen him since she had dropped him off at his girlfriend's house near Kingman. Forde had good things to say about Gaxiola as well. She told authorities that he was an informant for her Minuteman group. "He's a great scout," she said, "He lets us use his house."


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