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Violent attacks in home sparked by politics, victim says

Woman suspects shooting, sexual assault tied to her activism on illegal immigration

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By Scott North, Herald Writer
  • Shawna Forde

    Shawna Forde

  • This is among the photographs posted by Shawna Forde on a Web site for the Minutemen American Defense. Forde suggested the number, drawn in felt pen o...

    Courtesy photo

    This is among the photographs posted by Shawna Forde on a Web site for the Minutemen American Defense. Forde suggested the number, drawn in felt pen on her floor, may be a gang reference.

  • A police sketch of the man sought in a shooting at Shawna Forde's home.

    A police sketch of the man sought in a shooting at Shawna Forde's home.

EVERETT -- First a north Everett man was seriously wounded when a narrow-faced stranger burst into his home Dec. 22 and began shooting.
On Monday night, while the shooting victim was still in the hospital, his wife called police to report that a trio of intruders had just ambushed her in her kitchen. She was beaten, sexually assaulted and slashed on the back of her neck with a knife, she told officers.
Everett police acknowledge they aren't quite sure what to make of the violent events recently reported at the home in the 2200 block of Rocke­feller Avenue.
The woman, Shawna 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.
Early Friday, a story was posted on her group's Web site detailing what Forde said happened at her home. The posting is complete with photographs of Forde, displaying bruises and other injuries to her face, thighs and buttocks.
Forde, a one-time candidate for Everett City Council, insists the violence is somehow linked to her activism, including investigations she says she's been making into drug cartels and human trafficking rings.
"I am not dealing with people who make cookies," she said Friday, adding that she wanted her story to be told. "These are dangerous people."
Detectives are investigating what happened Monday, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said. He confirmed police and paramedics were summoned to the Rockefeller home and a report was taken, but added there are few details he can provide at this point.
He urged anyone with information to contact police.
Forde said she doesn't expect to provide detectives with a formal statement until sometime next week.
The Herald learned of the most-recent reported violence after Forde got home from the hospital on Tuesday. She called the newsroom, asking if there were plans for a story.
In an interview and on her group's Web site, Forde said she was knocked partially unconscious by a sudden blow, beaten with some sort of club, cut with a knife and sexually assaulted. Forde said the people who injured her filled her bathtub with water -- she's convinced because they planned to drown her. They also used a felt pen to scrawl the number 13 on her kitchen floor. She said her freelance crime investigations could have brought trouble her way, and suggested the "13" may be a reference to Hispanic street gangs, including the ultra violent Mara Salvatrucha.
People in the Minutemen movement are concerned.
Jim Gilchrist, president of the California-based Minuteman Project, called the newspaper Friday, seeking information. Forde's organization is separate, Gilchrist said, but it is one his group refers volunteers to when they are interested in engaging in border observation operations.
"We still have to wait to get some confirmation from the police department as to what is going on," Gilchrist said. "We are kind of shocked. This has not happened before."
Forde recently completed a three-month stint in Arizona, where she told Gilchrist she was monitoring illegal activity along with dozens of volunteers, he said.
Gilchrist said Forde's group, like the one he oversees, advocates for active law enforcement at the nation's borders. He said members don't attempt to apprehend or otherwise engage people who they suspect may be engaged in illegal conduct.
Volunteers have reported being shot at while on the borders, but nothing like Forde is reporting now, Gilchrist said.
"If it was an act of MS-13, or an illegal alien or a drug cartel we are going to come out with a passion that the public has never seen before," he said. "That is not a threat of violence," but a promise of "dire consequences, politically and socially," he said.
Forde in 2007 made an unsuccessful bid for Everett City Council, campaigning in part on a promise to make certain that police aren't blocked from checking on the immigration status of suspects.
She hosted Gilchrist at an anti-immigration rally in downtown Everett, an event that drew about 100 people and a handful of protesters. The licensed cosmetologist and esthetician also drew attention during the campaign when she pleaded guilty to stealing chocolate milk from an Everett grocery store.
Forde at the time said the whole thing was a misunderstanding, but pleaded guilty to put the matter behind her.
In 2007 she spent large amounts of time in Arizona, focusing on her political activism. Her Web site makes it clear that she continues to spend time away from Everett. She and her husband, 51, moved into separate homes in July. In October, he filed for divorce, although they continue to share a home, she said.
Forde's border activities have drawn attention from the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which has tracked hate groups for decades. The organization profiled Forde in Spring 2008 as one of 20 people it characterized as exploiting any medium to deliver a "message of raging intolerance" on immigration issues.
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

Story tags » EverettCrimeHispanic

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