Failed GOP candidate arrested on suspicion of orchestrating shootings at homes of Democrats in New Mexico, police say
A Republican former candidate for New Mexico’s legislature who police say claimed election fraud after his defeat has been arrested on suspicion of orchestrating recent shootings that damaged homes of Democratic elected leaders in the state, police said.
Solomon Peña, who lost his 2022 run for state House District 14, was arrested Monday by Albuquerque police, accused of paying and conspiring with four men to shoot at the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners, authorities said.
Sen. Linda Lopez , D-Albuquerque, shows bullet holes in her garage door after her Westside home was shot at on January 3, in Albuquerque, N.M.
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“It is believed he is the mastermind” behind the shootings that happened in December and early January, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said in a news conference.
CNN has reached out to Peña’s campaign website for comment and has been unable to identify his attorney.
Before the shootings, Peña in November – after losing the election – had approached one of the legislators and some county commissioners at their homes with paperwork that he said indicated fraud was involved in the elections, police said.
An investigation confirmed “these shootings were indeed politically motivated,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Monday.
“At the end of the day, this was about a right-wing radical, an election denier who was arrested today and someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence,” said Keller, a Democrat. “We know we don’t always agree with our elected officials, but that should never, ever lead to violence.”
The stewing of doubt about election veracity, principally among Republicans and usually without proof, has exploded nationwide since then-President Donald Trump lost his reelection bid and began propagating falsehoods the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The claims have stoked anger – and unapologetic threats of violence – against public officials down to the local level.
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Peña will face charges related to four shootings: a December 4 incident at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa; a December 8 shooting at the home of incoming state House Speaker Javier Martinez; a December 11 shooting at the home of then-Bernalillo Commissioner Debbie O’Malley; and a January 3 shooting at the home of state Sen. Linda Lopez, police said in a news release.
In the latest shooting, police found evidence “Peña himself went on this shooting and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the firearms that was used,” Albuquerque police Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said. But an AR handgun he tried to use malfunctioned, and more than a dozen rounds were fired by another shooter from a separate handgun, the police statement said.
The department is still investigating whether those suspected of carrying out the shootings were “even aware of who these targets were or if they were just conducting shootings,” Hartsock added.
“Nobody was injured in the shootings, which resulted in damage to four homes,” an Albuquerque police news release said.