Vigil honors Arizona girl killed by Everett woman

EVERETT — They mourned the death of a little girl Wednesday; a child whose life ended three years ago in a robbery orchestrated by an Everett woman she’d never met.

Brisenia Flores was 9. She’d just completed third grade. The principal at her school in Arivaca, Ariz., remembers her smile, her enthusiasm and love for animals.

She died along with her father, Raul “Junior” Flores, because of hateful ideas that took root here, more than 1,600 miles away, a crowd of about 80 human rights activists, elected officials and others were told.

“We stand here as a community to say ‘Never again,’” said Meg Winch, who heads the Snohomish County Commission on Human Rights.

Wednesday’s vigil not only focused on remembering Brisenia and her family. It also brought fresh attention for the evil linked to Shawna Forde.

Forde, of Everett, is now on Arizona’s death row. She was convicted last year of leading a May 30, 2009 raid on Brisenia’s home in a tiny desert town about 10 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Forde expected to find money and drugs and planned to use the loot to fund her Minutemen American Defense group, a border-watch operation she founded in Everett.

When the gunfire ended, Junior Flores was dead, his wife, Gina Gonzalez, was grievously wounded, and Brisenia’s life had been snuffed out by a bullet fired so close the gun’s barrel touched the child’s face.

State Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, was among the handful of people who confronted Forde in 2007 at an Everett gathering that was billed as a summit to combat illegal immigration. Forde found plenty of support for racism and ideas that divided communities, he said.

“We wonder now what we might have done to prevent this from happening,” he said.

Respect for civil rights and human decency need to be the values embraced here, County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan said. He recalled how his mother lit candles and prayed for the nation the day in 1968 when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

“This little girl is no less important,” Sullivan said.

Everett High School senior Leobardo Carmona said that when he first heard about Forde and her crimes, he figured the woman had to be out of her mind.

Then he learned that she had received nearly 6,000 votes when she ran for Everett City Council in 2007, campaigning largely on a platform that argued not enough was being done in Everett to confront illegal immigration.

“I was mad, surprised and really disappointed,” he said.

Carmona, who is from Oaxaca, Mexico, has lived in Everett for eight years. At times, he said, he has lived in fear because of discrimination. But, he added, “I also remember that there are people in this community who are good.”

Raymond Miller, vice president of the NAACP’s Snohomish County branch, drew appreciative laughter when he told the audience, “I remind you that there are no un-colored people in this place we call Earth.”

Racism and discrimination must be confronted, whatever forms they take, he said.

“We will never let America become a show-me-your-papers nation,” Miller said.

Even before her arrest in the Arivaca murders, Forde already had been linked to violence and criminal conduct, including convictions for prostitution, burglary and theft, starting when she was just 11.

Her role as a Minuteman organizer began to fall apart on Dec. 22, 2008. That’s when her estranged husband was repeatedly shot during an ambush attack at their former north Everett home.

The couple was divorcing, and Forde was suspected of getting somebody to fire the bullets. She was questioned by police.

A week later, Forde called 911 to claim a group of men linked to Mexican drug cartels had broken into the home and raped her.

Police had evidence Forde was lying, but didn’t directly confront her story.

Within weeks, she turned up in an Everett alleyway, bleeding from gunshot wounds, and claiming her attackers had returned. Evidence ultimately surfaced that Forde likely staged that attack, too, but by then she already was facing charges for the Arizona killings.

Everett detectives still have an open investigation into the shooting of Forde’s ex-husband, but the case has stalled, said officer Aaron Snell, the department’s spokesman.

“We just need some additional leads additional evidence,” Snell said.

Forde’s ex-husband has recovered from his wounds. He was among those in the crowd Wednesday, quietly remembering Brisenia.

Barry Corey is a Tucson attorney who represents the girl’s family. Earlier this month he filed a federal lawsuit in Arizona, alleging the FBI failed to act on warnings about Forde’s plans for the Arivaca raid.

The FBI was told by two Minutemen from Colorado whom Forde attempted to recruit for the raid. Their testimony later helped convict Forde and her accomplices.

A deputy in Arizona encountered Forde near Arivaca a few days before the robbery. Had the deputy known Forde’s plans, he could have arrested her for the conspiracy, the lawsuit said.

The lawyer Wednesday said he’d heard about the vigil in Everett for Brisenia.

“I would hope they remember the whole family,” he said.

Herald Writer Noah Haglund contributed to this story

Scott North: 425-339-3431,

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian on I-5. Investigators were working to determine exactly what happened.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.