Laine Lawless, the Mexican-flag-burning founder of the Arizona-based hate group Border Guardians, admitted last week that she met with fellow nativist vigilante leader Shawna Forde less than 24 hours after Forde allegedly took part in the home invasion slayings of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter in Arivaca, Ariz., near the Mexican border.
The admission from Lawless came in response to a Sept. 9 Everett (Wash.) Herald article in which Minuteman activist Chuck Stonex revealed that Lawless had accompanied him the night of May 30 when Stonex met with Forde and Jason Bush, the alleged triggerman in the slayings, which had occurred in the early morning hours that same day.
Two weeks later, Forde and Bush were arrested and charged with the murders along with a third accomplice. Soon after their arrests, Stonex went to police and said he’d treated Bush for a gunshot wound at Forde’s request the night after the killings. He said that Forde claimed a ricochet had struck Bush in the leg while he was on vigilante border patrol.
According to law enforcement authorities, Bush suffered the injury when the wife and mother of the victims shot him during the home invasion robbery that was orchestrated by Forde, the founder of Minuteman American Defense.
Everett, a suburb of Seattle, is Forde’s hometown, and the Herald has been following the tangled local-girl-gone-bad story with extensive coverage of the Arivaca killings and their fallout since mid-June.
Stonex told the Herald he decided to disclose to police that Lawless was present at the meeting where he patched up Bush after Lawless created a website proclaiming Forde’s innocence and rallying border vigilantes to Forde’s cause.
"She was there, too. She saw everything that I saw," Stonex told the Herald. “"She's making too many troubles and I think it is time for the rest of the story.”
According to Stonex, Forde contacted him around 8 a.m. May 30, about five hours after the slayings, and told him one of her “scouts” had been shot. Then Bush got on the phone and requested that Stonex pick up medical supplies and meet them in Arivaca. Neither made any mention of the killings, Stonex claimed.
Stonex said that agreed to help, but not until after he attended a gathering in another town of American Border Patrol, a separate anti-immigrant hate group run by Glenn Spencer.
At that gathering, Stonex said, he met Lawless for the first time. When Forde called him again and asked to meet around 9 p.m. in Arivaca, Stonex said, he told Lawless what was up and where he was going. She asked to come along, and he agreed.
According to Stonex, he and Lawless drove to a strip mall that Forde had selected for their meeting place. Forde arrived in a teal minivan, which matches the description in police reports of the vehicle used in the killings.
Stonex said that Forde led them to a small house in Arivaca where he provided first aid to Bush while Forde and Lawless spoke together.
Stonex's revelation about Lawless touched off yet another round of infighting within the Minutemen movement in the aftermath of the murders, with some Minutemen arguing in online forums that he did the right thing while others called him a rat.
In a message posted on her website two days after the Herald article was published, Lawless castigated Stonex for “outing” her but did not dispute the basic facts of his account.
“The simple fact of the matter is that on the night of May 30, Chuck and I went to see Shawna and Jason Bush in Arivaca. This was not RIGHT AFTER the murders in Arivaca; it was 20 hours later,” Lawless wrote. “Neither of us had any prior knowledge of any crime being committed. I had corresponded with Shawna and had talked to her a few times on the phone, and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to meet her in person. I had no mercenary goal that night, just the normal human curiosity to meet a new person. We arrived, we stayed for maybe 30 minutes, we left, and we went our separate ways.”
Lawless has been a lightning rod for controversy within the border vigilante movement since April 2006, when the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report revealed that she had contacted a high-ranking member of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, to urge the NSM to launch a campaign of violence and harassment against Latino immigrants.
Since then, she has continued to flirt with extremist causes beyond the scope of anti-immigration vigilantism. Most recently, on July 13 she attended a lecture in Phoenix by Holocause denier David Irving where she rubbed shoulders with neo-Nazis and racist skinheads.