The nation came together to mourn those lost in the tragic Arizona mass shooting in January, most specifically 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. But another 9-year-old girl from Pima County, Arizona was killed under bizarre and equally tragic circumstances, and for years the mainstream media mostly ignored it. Now, a verdict, and some sense of justice for Brisenia Flores.
Former anti-immigration activist and prostitute Shawna Forde has been found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder stemming from a May 2009 home invasion in Aravica, Arizona, which left two dead, including 9-year-old Brisenia Flores.
On the 30th of May 2009, three assailants entered the home of Raul “Junior” Flores under the guise of being police officers looking for fugitives. Flores wasn’t convinced and demanded identification from the group. Suddenly, one of the intruders opened fire, killing Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia.
Actually, it’s even worse than that. Flores’ wife, Gina Maria Gonzalez, who was also shot, took the stand in late January and gave this more in-depth, harrowing account of the girl’s shooting:
Brisenia demanded to know why the man had shot her father and when she realized it was her mom on the floor near the couch, she wanted to know why he’d shot her mom, too, Gonzalez said.
“He’s all out of bullets because he used them on me and Junior and he stands there and he loads the gun right in front of her,” Gonzalez sobbed. “I can hear her say ‘Please don’t shoot me.”
Gonzalez said she heard the shot and saw her daughter go flying back. She then heard the second shot.
Gonzalez managed to grab her husband’s handgun and fired at the group, wounding one of the assailants and forcing the intruders to flee. She then quickly called 911, but during the call the perpetrators re-entered the home. The chilling 911 recording (heard here) reveals Gonzalez’s terror, “They’re coming back in! They’re coming back in!” Gonzalez played dead and managed to escape with her life. “Oh my God, I can’t believe they killed my family,” Gonzalez also said on the recording.
Shawna Forde, Albert Robert Gaxiola and Jason Eugene Bush were later charged with the murders. All three were members of the Minutemen American Defense, an anti-immigration and border-patrolling splinter group formed by Forde after she was kicked out of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps.
“We knew that Shawna Forde was not just an unsavory character but pretty unbalanced, as well,” said Chris Simcox, founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps.
To finance her new anti-immigration goon squad, Forde told family members that she planned to rob alleged drug-traffickers near the border. The savage killings for which she was convicted appear to be one of her financing robberies gone awry. Flores had been rumored to be dealing with drug traffickers, and Forde’s gang was on the hunt for his rumored $4,000 drug-money stash, Pima County prosecutors stated at a press conference and in court records.
Forde has a long history of brushes with the law. Beginning in the late 1980s, she has been arrested for theft, burglary and prostitution. The Seattle Weekly ran a piece on her in July 2009 that delves into her seedy background, including her illegal sex activities with men that have names like Rodriguez.
Given up for adoption as a child, Shawna was raised partly in foster homes and left school early on. She wed as a teen and would blaze through three other marriages, four name changes, more court scrapes, and a zigzagging procession of career choices—self-proclaimed Seattle grunge-rock promoter, hairdresser, Boeing worker, youth counselor, cosmetologist, and T-shirt maker—before, according to her brother, going over the inevitable edge and staging crimes, including her own rape.
The killings have inspired outrage amongst Latino groups, which highlight the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States.
Joaquin Guerra, campaign director for Latino activism group Presente.org, told The Huffington Post the conviction is “justice for a little girl whose death was ignored by the mainstream media.”
“We hope her death wasn’t in vain and that it serves as an example of what can happen when the types of conditions that are in Arizona are allowed to go unchecked and are legitimated as serious policy issues,” Guerra said.
Forde’s alleged accomplices, Albert Robert Gaxiola and Jason Eugene Bush, are awaiting trial.