A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against the FBI by a former Arivaca woman who lost her youngest daughter and husband during a May 2009 home invasion.
Last May, Gina Gonzalez sued the federal government saying an FBI agent was aware members of a militia group were planning to raid her home, but the agent failed to notify the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Had the sheriff’s department known about the plot, a deputy could have arrested two of the three future perpetrators when he encountered them just a few days before they carried out their plan, the lawsuit alleged.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Zipps agreed with defense attorneys, who said the agency was exempt from litigation because the agent used his discretion under FBI policy.
“We’re disappointed and we plan to appeal,” said Gonzalez’ attorney, Thomas Cotter. He declined to comment further.
On May 30, 2009, Raul Junior Flores, 29, let Shawna Forde and Jason Bush into his home when they knocked on his door and claimed they were U.S. Border Patrol agents looking for fugitives.
Within minutes, Bush shot and killed Raul Flores, shot and wounded Gonzalez and then shot their youngest daughter, Brisenia, as the 9-year-old begged for her life.
As Gonzalez pretended to be dead, Bush, Flores and Albert Gaxiola ransacked the house looking for drugs and money, but left with just a few pieces of jewelry.
All three were tried separately in Pima County Superior Court in 2011 and convicted. Forde, 45, and Bush, 38, are on Arizona’s death row. Gaxiola, 45, is serving a no-parole life term.
Forde intended to use the proceeds of the home invasion to fund Minutemen American Defense, the militia she formed, prosecutors alleged.
Colorado bounty hunter, Minuteman and FBI informant Robert Copley testified he met with Forde at an Aurora, Colo. truck stop two weeks before the slayings. During that meeting, Forde wanted to know if he and his buddies were interested in robbing a drug cartel “staging area,” according to court testimony and Gonzalez’ lawsuit.
Copley met with his FBI handler after the meeting, told him of the plot and gave him a map of the area where the Flores’ home was located. The agent gave the map to agents in the Phoenix FBI office, but it was lost.
Gonzalez’ lawsuit maintained the FBI agents were required to tell local law enforcement about the planned crime.
Gonzalez and her eldest daughter, who was at her grandparents the night of the murders, have since moved from Arivaca.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org