Eugene Gunny Bush, the minuteman who Brisenia's mother said pulled the trigger murdering her daughter and her husband, left a paper trail of deception behind, according to residents of the small Arizona town of Meadview, where he lived for about a year until his arrest last month.
Bush, who admitted to the May 30 murders of Raul and Brisenia Flores during a home invasion, presented counterfeit money orders and fake military papers around town and lied to get work, said residents of Meadview. “He was a huge con artist,” said Tracy Van Wormer, owner of Meadview Market, a local convenience store. “I’m sitting on about $2,000 worth of counterfeit money orders from him.” She said Bush, who claimed he was a veteran, told her that he was re-enlisting and cashed two money orders for $1,000 each in early May that he said were advances on his re-enlistment bonus. When she sent them to the bank, they were returned. The bank told her they were old money orders that had been washed and rewritten, Van Wormer said. “I pressed charges against him and they issued a warrant, but I’ll never see my two grand,” she said.
Pentagon officials told the Everett (Wash.) Herald that there is no record that Bush served in the military. Bush told the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office that he had been duped in an Internet scam and that’s how he came by the checks, Van Wormer said. Bush also presented forged military papers to become a member of the local VFW post, said the post’s senior vice commander, Lavern Allsman. “He said he was in Vietnam,” said Allsman of the 34-year-old Bush. “It looked good on paper.” The VFW requires proof of at least six months served overseas, but Bush was voted in as a member without verifying the documents, he said. He added that Bush likely joined to take advantage of the cheap liquor. “There’s only two bars in Meadview: The VFW and the Crow’s Nest, and it’s cheaper to drink at the VFW,” Allsman said. “The next meeting (today), I have to challenge his eligibility and as soon as it comes out that he was never in the military, his VFW card will be destroyed.”
Bush told friends that he was a decorated Special Forces veteran who had survived combat in Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush even has military tattoos, including “special forces,” “recon-viper” and “7th artillery group La Grande, OR,” according to a warrant issued by the Pima County Justice Court. And when Bush show up in Meadview early June with a bullet wound in his leg, he told people he had just been injured in Iraq, Van Wormer said. “I should have known he was lying,” she said. “They don’t send soldiers home with bullet holes in their leg.” Bush was treated in a Kingman hospital after his arrest for a gunshot wound to the leg.
Bush confessed June 11, shortly after he was arrested in Meadview, Pima County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael O’Connor said. Bush implicated Shawna Forde, 41, originally from Washington state but who was living in Tucson, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, of Arivaca, as his accomplices. Bush named several other people in the murders but O’Connor said he couldn’t reveal how many, their names or how they are related to the suspects for fear of compromising the investigation. No other arrests have been made. The three have been charged with 8 felony counts, including first-degree murder, burglary in the first degree, aggravated assault and armed robbery.
Bush spent much of his teens and 20s in and out of jail. Court records show that he served prison time in Idaho, Kansas and Washington, including nearly five years for several charges, including auto theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm. But he lied about his criminal record when applying for a job as an engineer at the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass structure suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He was fired in March “due to events surrounding unresolved issues found in his background investigation that he could not or would not resolve,” Daniel Kay, general manager of Grand Canyon Skywalk Development, said in an e-mailed statement. He declined to comment further.
Bush has also been charged in the 1997 murder of a man in Wenatchee, Wash, according to court papers, and the state prosecuting attorney is seeking extradition for that crime and other theft charges. He’s a suspect, along with Forde, in the Redding, Calif., robbery of Forde’s half-brother, the Herald has reported.
Arivaca suspect made enemies in small town