A leader of Shawna Forde’s nativist extremist group acknowledged that he killed an Arizona man and his daughter, according to two Arizona newspapers.
Jason Eugene “Gunny” Bush confessed to the May 30 shootings shortly after his arrest two weeks later, according to reports this week in the Arizona Daily Star and the Green Valley News. He also reportedly named additional suspects besides Forde and Albert Gaxiola, who have also been charged in connection with the homicides. Despite his confession, Bush — along with Forde and Gaxiola — pleaded not guilty on June 30.
Forde is accused of masterminding the murders of Raul Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia. Police say she wanted to steal money from the Flores family to help finance her border patrol group, Minutemen American Defense (MAD).
Her arrest sparked major infighting within nativist circles that has escalated in the past two weeks. In an effort to distance themselves from Forde, anti-immigrant leaders are lobbing numerous accusations and counter-accusations at each other that often devolve into harsh personal attacks.
In a July 2 advisory to his supporters, William Gheen, leader of the North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said he’d added Glenn Spencer’s American Patrol (which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group) to a list of organizations that activists should avoid. The list already included Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project, which had defended Forde after she claimed to have been the victim of shootings and assaults in and near her home in Everett, Wash. “Both Gilchrist and Spencer have been highly negligent in who they have associated themselves and their organizations with by supporting and assisting Shawna Forde long after it was clear to many others that she should be cast out of our movement,” Gheen wrote.
Partly in response to this advisory, Spencer’s office manager, Melissa Jaramillo, wrote an open letter to Gheen that was also sent to the Long Island Wins blog. “There must be something wrong with you, as your vicious and continued attacks against others fighting for the same cause is nothing but destructive for the movement and they make you look obsessed,” she wrote. “That’s it, you’re obsessed with the destruction of anyone who does not bend to your will. God, I hope you don’t have a wife or children — especially teenagers because they have a mind of their own.” Jaramillo also suggested that Gheen had indirectly contributed to Forde’s troubles. “You created a movement for everyone to show hatred towards her. What did you expect would happen after you were done ‘ruining her’ and made sure that not just the opposition hated her but those within the movement hated her as well. You really gave her nothing to live for.”
In response to an earlier post from Gheen, Spencer denied that ALIPAC had warned him about Forde and said he didn’t need any such warning. Because of her odd behavior, Spencer said, he’d barred her from the American Border Patrol ranch after she made three visits there in 2008. (Forde was arrested near Spencer’s home in connection with the murders. Spencer said he let her inside after she showed up uninvited and asked to work on her laptop.) In a June 29 posting on his website, Spencer wrote: “The idea that I would put the reputation of American Border Patrol at risk by assisting someone that I knew to be unstable is outrageous and slanderous. Gheen says I ‘continued to assist her.’ What nonsense! By making these totally false accusations with no evidence whatsoever to back them up, Mr. Gheen has proven himself to be unprofessional and exploitative of the problem of unfortunate people like Shawna Forde. He is doing this to make money by tearing his ‘competitors’ down, pure and simple.
“There is really only one way to deal with people like Mr. Gheen and it is not to mince words. To wit: Wm. Gheen is an idiot.”
Gilchrist, the other major target of Gheen’s diatribes, said several nativist groups including Gheen’s share blame for Forde’s actions. “While not directly responsible for the criminal behavior of Shawna Forde and her partners in crime, ALIPAC, Chelene Nightingale [former head of Save Our State, which SPLC also lists as a hate group], and Jeff Schwilk [leader of the hard-line San Diego Minutemen] are responsible for adding fuel to her apparent already unstable mental condition, in my opinion. Relentless attacks by you three via the Internet upon her character may very well have fueled her anger to the point of no return.”
And on his website discussion forum, Gheen posted an insult-laden July 2 E-mail exchange between Chuck Stonex, who resigned from MAD after Forde’s arrest, and Schwilk. “From now on, the radical psychopaths like you and your demi-God Gilchrist and your lust object Shawna will be dealt with much more harshly,” wrote Schwilk, who is particularly given to hurling unkind words. “Just go away before you do any more damage to our country and our cause.”
Stonex responded: “‘IF’ this cowardly act had been planned by me and Gilchrist, the attack would of [sic] been at your house or in North Carolina for the good of America. NOT on an innocent family in Arivaca, Arizona.”
But it’s not all mudslinging in the nativist movement. Gilchrist announced last week that he’d awarded the first Fourth of July Minuteman-of-the-Year award to Spencer for “[leading] the debate on illegal immigration.”
We’re glad someone’s feeling the love.