Hoax claims ‘ridiculous,’ Minutemen leader says

EVERETT — Everett police still are trying to determine what to make of a man’s shooting by an unknown assailant at his home Dec. 22 and his estranged wife’s report a week later that she was beaten and raped by intruders.

Detectives continue to investigate what happened in the house in the 2200 block of Rockefeller Avenue, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said Monday. There are no new developments, he said.

The case is attracting substantial attention on the Web, in no small part because of Shawna Forde, the woman who reported being attacked Dec. 29.

Forde, 41, is national director of Minutemen American Defense, a group that lobbies against illegal immigration and sends volunteers to Arizona to monitor the nation’s border with Mexico.

Last week she publicly linked the shooting of her husband, 51, and the attack she reported, and suggested they somehow are connected to her activism regarding crime, drugs and illegal immigration.

Forde said she knows some are calling the assault report she made a hoax, but dismissed that as “politics.”

Speculation that she may have applied makeup to simulate injuries is wrong and “so ridiculous,” she said.

On Friday, the Web site for Forde’s group posted a story detailing what she said occurred at her home. The posting was complete with photographs displaying what appear to be injuries to her face, thighs and buttocks.

On Monday, Forde wrote to supporters on an Internet message board.

“My days have been dark, full of fear and confusion but without you I would be a big mess so thank you for your love and compassion for my family at this time of crisis,” she wrote.

The balance of Forde’s message apologized for not providing more detail about the Dec. 29 attack she reported.

Forde also outlined steps she is taking to keep her teenage daughter and their pets safe “untill(sic) we can make out what has potentialy(sic) happendin(sic) this house during that 7 day period.”

The post goes on to say Forde is devastated “in every way, so I beg of those who want to find critisism(sic) allow our family two weeks to organize then come to me personnaly (sic) if you have questions or conserns(sic).”

Forde said she plans to provide a formal statement to Everett police today or Wednesday.

Her supporters need no convincing.

“It happened. Absolutely. I have no doubt in my mind that it happened,” said Chuck Stonex of Alamogordo, N.M. Stonex said he participated in armed patrols with Forde in the Arizona desert in October, not just watching for illegal activity, but also trying to chase down people suspected of cross-border smuggling.

Stonex said Forde told him about freelance investigations that led her to “mountains of drugs and hand grenades and rocket launchers.” He was unsure where these caches supposedly are hidden.

Hal Washburn of Olalla, in Kitsap County, said he is vetting officer for Washington state chapter of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. Forde was a member of that group from summer 2006 until February 2007, when she was encouraged to leave.

“I’ve advised our membership and people who did know her when she was with us to just avoid her at all costs,” Washburn said Monday.

There were numerous problems during her time with them, he said, including a Forde-­initiated fundraising effort held without approval or oversight from his minuteman group.

She also pushed a confrontational agenda, ignoring the group’s practice of leaving it up to law officers to investigate illegal conduct, he said.

“We avoid anything to do with these drug cartels,” Washburn said. “We are certainly against drug smuggling and that kind of thing but we aren’t equipped to tackle drug cartels or (gangs) or anything like that. We are strictly anti-illegal immigration.”

In interviews and in articles posted to the Web, Forde claims to have gone undercover to investigate drug traffickers and prostitution rings, not only in Arizona, but also in Snohomish County.

Last week, Forde said she believes the violence involving her family is somehow linked to those activities.

It is a claim she’s made before, including early last year, when her daughter left home without permission. Forde launched a Web-based search, suggesting the girl may have been grabbed by Hispanic gangs.

On Monday, Forde said that there may be other explanations for her recent troubles, including threats she simply failed to recognize.

“I live in fear,” Forde said. “I’m afraid. I’m afraid to walk out of my house.”

Forde and her husband moved into separate homes in July. In October, he filed for divorce. Last week, Forde said the couple continue to share a home, although she spent months away in Arizona. On Monday, Forde acknowledged that she had been living recently with friends in Granite Falls.

Forde in 2007 made an unsuccessful bid for Everett City Council. She hosted an anti-immigration rally in downtown Everett, an event that drew about 100 people and a handful of protesters.

The licensed cosmetologist and aesthetician also drew attention during the campaign when she pleaded guilty to stealing chocolate milk from an Everett grocery store. At the time, Forde said the shoplifting allegation was a misunderstanding, but pleaded guilty to put the matter behind her.

Everett police continue to seek information on the man who shot Forde’s husband. On Thursday they released a sketch of the attacker. He is described as white and was wearing light-colored clothing during the evening attack.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Everett police tip line at 425-257-8450, Goetz said.

Reporter Scott North: 425-339-3431 or north@heraldnet.com.

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