Some of the problems associated with Forde may have begun when she was a toddler, her mother said. Caudle put her daughter Shawna Forde up for adoption at about 18 months old, and Forde alleged she was abused by her adoptive family. When Forde tracked down her birth mother at about age 20, Caudle met a daughter who could be kind, but often to serve her own needs. "She would play people, and she would have no conscience about it," Caudle said by phone from Redding, Calif. "I thought maybe she had sociopathic tendencies." But Caudle said: "I always said having Shawna around was like having a whirlwind coming through the house."
Gunny Smith had his own problems. He bragged to minutemen insiders that he was a decorated Special Forces veteran who survived combat in Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The truth is, however, Smith was NEVER in the military. Court papers show that Bush has been in trouble with the law since age 15, when he was prosecuted for felony property crimes in northern Idaho. He was convicted in Kansas in 1994 for burglary as well as assault on a female corrections officer and attempted escape. Bush also is charged with second-degree murder for the 1997 stabbing death of a Wenatchee man. After the murder, he bragged to friends saying he killed a Mexican. Shawna Forde LIED when she introduced Bush on her Minuteman website as someone who had served six overseas tours and had received the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
Early this year, Forde told her brother, Merrill Metzger, and her mother that she planned to start attacking drug traffickers on the Arizona-Mexico border and robbing them to fund her group's activities, family members said.
Forde and Bush are accused of having passed themselves off as law enforcement officers to force their way into the Perez home on May 30. When they entered the home, they shot and murdered 9 year old Brisenia Flores and her father. They also shot Brisenia's mother and went back to kill her and Brisenia's sister. However her mother called 911, returned fire and shot Gunny Bush causing Bush and Forde and their accomplices to run.
Minuteman Chuck Stonex said Forde called him May 30, the day of the attack, while he was in Arizona. Stonex said Forde told him Bush had been shot in the leg and needed him to help dress the wound. Stonex told police that Forde told him Bush had been shot by a smuggler while on border patrol in the desert.
Police used cell phone records to check Forde's and Bush's next step. They moved from Arivaca, AZ to Redding, CA where her mother and brother live and to Shasta Lake, California. Peter Meyers of Shasta Lake, told police he recognized Bush as one of the two men who posed as federal agents to get inside his home June 8 and then robbed him at gunpoint of nearly $12,000. Police still are looking for the second robber, who was described as white, in his mid-20s, clean shaven and with short brown hair.
Forde's half-brother, Merrill Metzger of Redding, Calif., said police detectives told him that Forde and Bush have been connected to that robbery as well as a burglary the next day at Metzger's home. Metzger said detectives told him that cell-phone records show that six days after the Arivaca killings, Forde and Bush went to California, where they checked into a motel outside Redding. At one point, the pair asked the motel manager for a pry bar, he said, because they wanted to open a safe. Metzger said detectives told him "the safe they were trying to open was mine."
Like his mother, Metzger said Forde had previously talked about creating an "underground" group to rob suspected drug traffickers and also businesses that she believed may be friendly to illegal immigrants. He said Forde bragged of connections to white supremacists and said some in her organization were willing to kill. One of the potential targets, Metzger said, was a store in Phoenix where the owner was said to cash checks for people working illegally in the U.S. "She just sat here and told me, just outright blatantly told me, what she was going to do," Metzger said.