Solomon Peña: Failed GOP candidate arrested on suspicion of orchestrating shootings at homes of New Mexico Democrats, police say
A former Republican candidate for the New Mexico legislature, who police say declare voter fraud Police said after his defeat he was arrested on suspicion of orchestrating recent shootings that damaged the homes of Democratic-elected leaders in the state.
Solomon Peña, who lost his bid for the 14th District House of Representatives in 2022, was arrested by Albuquerque police on Monday, charged with paying and conspiring with four men to shoot at the house of two state legislators and two county commissioners, authorities said.
“It is believed that he is the mastermind” behind the shootings that occurred in December and early January, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said at a news conference.
CNN has reached out to Peña’s campaign website for comment and was unable to identify his attorney.
Police said before the shooting, in November, Peña – after losing the election – approached one of the legislators and several county commissioners at their home with paperwork he alleged to be involved in election fraud.
An investigation has confirmed “these shootings are indeed politically motivated,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Monday.
“Ultimately, this is about a right-wing radical, an election denier who was arrested today and someone who did the worst thing you can imagine when there is a political disagreement, which is turn that turns into violence,” said Keller, a Democrat. “We know we don’t always agree with our elected officials, but that should never lead to violence.”
Doubts about the authenticity of the election, which were mostly among Republicans and often without evidence, have exploded across the country since then – President Donald Trump lost his re-election bid and arrested him. head false propaganda 2020 presidential election has been stolen. The statements have angry – and no regrets threats of violence – against degraded local government officials.
Peña will face charges in connection with four shootings: the December 4 incident at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa; the December 8 shooting at the home of incoming Speaker of the House Javier Martinez; the December 11 shooting at the home of then-Commissioner Bernalillo, Debbie O’Malley; and a shooting on January 3 at the home of State Senator Linda Lopez, police said in a press release.
In the latest shooting, police found evidence “It was Peña who participated in this shooting and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the guns that was used,” Albuquerque Police Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said. However, an AR pistol he attempted to use malfunctioned and more than a dozen rounds were fired by another gunman from another handgun, the police statement said.
The department is still investigating whether the suspected shooters “even know who these targets are or if they just carried out the shooting,” Hartsock added.
“No one was injured in the shooting, which resulted in damage to four homes,” said an Albuquerque police press release.
Barboa, who investigators say was the site of the first shooting, is grateful for the arrest of the case, she told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.
“I was relieved to know that people would no longer be his target,” she said.
During the fall campaign, Peña’s opponent, Democratic Representative Miguel Garcia, sued to remove Peña from the ballot, arguing that Peña’s status as a former criminal would prevent him from being able to contest. appointed to public office in the state, CNN branch KOAT report. The KOAT report said Peña spent nearly seven years in prison after being convicted in 2008 for stealing large quantities of goods in a “smash and snatch scheme”.
“You can’t hide your own history,” Peña told the outlet in September. “I have nothing more than a desire to improve my life.”
According to KOAT, a district court judge ruled that Peña was allowed to run. He lose my race for Garcia, 26% to 74%.
“Following the election in November, Solomon Peña contacted and contracted someone for cash to carry out at least two of these shootings. Hartsock said Monday, citing the investigation, that the addresses of the shootings were communicated by phone. “Within hours, there were cases of shootings taking place at the house of the legislator.”
Hartsock said evidence of weapons, surveillance video, cell phones and electronic records, as well as witnesses in and around the conspiracy, aided the investigation and helped officials connect the five people to the conspiracy. this plot.
Detectives executed a search warrant Monday at Peña’s apartment and the homes of two men believed to have been paid by Peña, police said in the statement, adding that Peña had not spoken. with detectives.
Officers arrested Peña on suspicion of “helping to orchestrate and participate in these four shootings, either at his request or on his own,” Hartsock added.
Police last week announced they had arrested a suspect and had recovered a firearm in connection with one of the shootings at the homes of elected officials. The department said a vehicle driven at one of the scenes was registered to Peña.
“Detectives no longer believe the shooting is linked to reports of shootings near the Attorney General’s campaign office, as well as the law office of a state senator,” the statement said. the press stated.
O’Malley, the then-county commissioner who home police said was shot in December, is pleased that an arrest has been made, she said.
“I am so relieved – and so is my family. I very much appreciate the work the police did,” O’Malley told CNN Monday night. O’Malley and her husband were sleeping on December 11 when more than a dozen shots were fired at her home in Albuquerque, she said.
Barboa discovered gunfire at her home after returning from the Christmas shopping district, she said.
“It’s so scrary. My house had four bullets through the front door and window where just hours ago my nephew and I were playing in the living room,” Barboa said in a statement. “The handling of this attack continues to be extremely difficult, especially given that elected officials who are women and other people of color, along with children and grandchildren, have been targeted.”
Martinez, the incoming speaker of the House, whose home was also shot, is grateful for a suspect in custody, he told CNN in a statement. “We have seen so much political violence lately, and all of these events are powerful reminders that stirring up fear, increasing tension and agitation,” he said. Hatred can have devastating consequences.
Adjust: An earlier version of this story misspelled Debbie O’Malley’s name.