By Scott North Herald Writer
EVERETT — A minuteman who says he helped bind a bullet wound May 30 for a co-defendant of border activist Shawna Forde now says he wasn’t alone when he went to provide medical assistance to the man in Arivaca, Ariz.
Chuck Stonex of Alamagordo, N.M., said Tuesday he was accompanied on the first-aid mission by Laine Lawless of Phoenix.
Lawless, who is known in Arizona for burning Mexican flags, recently made headlines for starting up a Web site claiming that Forde, formerly of Everett, is being railroaded on charges that she was involved in a double murder in Arivaca. Arizona prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Stonex said it’s time for Lawless to publicly acknowledge that she met with Forde, 41, and co-defendant Jason Eugene Bush, 35, within hours of the killings. The meeting occurred at an Arivaca house that Stonex said he now believes was the home of Albert Gaxiola, the third defendant in the murder case.
“She was there, too. She saw everything that I saw,” Stonex said of Lawless. He had earlier decided to leave it up to Lawless to come forward as a witness — something Stonex said he did as soon as he learned that Forde and Bush were suspects in a double murder.
He changed his mind in part because of Lawless’ involvement with the Web site Justiceforshawnaforde.com.
“She’s making too many troubles and I think it is time for the rest of the story,” Stonex said.
Lawless did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Detectives in Pima County, Ariz., already have independently developed some information that Lawless was present when Bush’s wound was treated, deputy Dawn Barkman said.
Stonex knew Forde through a group she called Minutemen American Defense. She billed the organization as a “boots on the ground” branch of a movement that is attempting to thwart drug smuggling and illegal immigration through tougher enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Stonex said he was in Arizona on May 30 for a quick vacation when Forde called him about 8 a.m. and reported that one of her “scouts” had been hit in the leg by a ricochet bullet. She said she was in Arivaca, but made no mention of the killings there just hours earlier, Stonex said.
Stonex said Bush got on the phone and asked him to pick up medical supplies, including sutures to close the wound to his leg. Stonex agreed to do so, but not until later in the day, after he attended a picnic at the Sierra Vista headquarters of American Border Patrol, a group run by Glenn Spencer.
Stonex said Forde called him at the picnic and asked to meet about 9 p.m. in Arivaca. He was talking with Lawless, who he said he’d met for the first time that day, and she asked to accompany him.
They drove to the meeting place with Forde at a strip mall just off the highway. Forde showed up in a teal minivan, a vehicle that matches police reports of a similar one used hours before in killings.
Stonex said that Forde led them to a small house in Arivaca where he provided some first aid to Bush. He said he was unable to find sutures to close the wound, but it wouldn’t have been possible in any case, because it was more of a large, superficial gouge.
“The bullet took a hunk of hide is what it did,” Stonex said.
Forde and Lawless spoke together while he patched up Bush, Stonex said. Earlier, he said Lawless had stopped to buy note pads. Lawless later told him she hopes to find a way to sell Forde’s story, he said.
Stonex said he left and returned to his hotel. He didn’t see Bush and Forde the next day, but hooked up with them in Tucson the day after. They ate dinner at a restaurant that specializes in Mexican-style seafood, Stonex said.
Stonex said he has taken a lot of heat for acknowledging his contact with Forde after the Arivaca killings, but he said that coming forward was the right thing.
“I would like to see this just be a big, bad nightmare, but I don’t think that is going to happen,” he said.
Scott North: 425-339-3431, email@example.com.