Shedding GOP candidate arrested in string of shootings at New Mexico Democrats’ properties

Shedding GOP candidate arrested in string of shootings at New Mexico Democrats’ properties

Shedding GOP candidate arrested in string of shootings at New Mexico Democrats’ properties

A failed New Mexico state Home candidate described by police as an “election denier” was arrested Monday in a string of shootings on the properties of state and native Democratic leaders.

Republican Solomon Peña is accused of conspiring with and paying 4 males to hold out four non-injury shootings on the Albuquerque-area properties of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two state legislators, Albuquerque police mentioned.

Peña might need been motivated by anger over his November loss, police mentioned. Police spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos mentioned at a information convention early Monday night that Peña alleged his defeat was the results of election fraud.

Pena misplaced his state Home problem to incumbent Democrat Miguel P. Garcia by 5,679 to 2,033, or 74 % to 26 %.

He took his case to 3 county commissioners and a state senator — some whose properties have been focused within the shootings — to no avail, Gallegos mentioned.

“He had complaints about his election he felt being rigged,” Gallegos mentioned. “Because the mayor mentioned, he was an election denier — he doesn’t need to settle for the outcomes of his election.”

One of many conferences with native and state leaders grew to become heated, he mentioned.

“One truly led to fairly an argument, I imagine,” Gallegos mentioned. “It was shortly after that the shootings occurred.”

State Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, reveals bullet holes in her storage door on Jan. 5, 2023, after her house was shot at. (Adolphe Pierre / Albuquerque Journal by way of Alamy)

Peña was a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, who claimed voter fraud in his 2020 election loss, an allegation that is unfounded. He was photographed throughout his marketing campaign final yr carrying a purple “Make America Nice Once more” sweatshirt with a stitched, gold-colored signature of the previous president.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller described the assaults as a product of political extremism.

“This radicalism is a menace to our metropolis, our state, and our nation,” he tweeted Monday. “We are going to proceed to push again towards hate in all kinds and cease political violence.”

Detectives allege Peña paid 4 different males money and texted them addresses the place he wished gunfire to erupt, Albuquerque police mentioned.

A key to the investigation, police mentioned, was a visitors cease early Jan. 3 of Peña’s Nissan Maxima, pushed by a person named Jose Trujillo, who was arrested primarily based on a felony warrant, police mentioned in a press release Monday.

The arrest triggered an “stock search” of the car, a sweep allowed beneath regulation with a view to impound it safely, and authorities found greater than 800 fentanyl tablets within the heart console, police mentioned.

Extra essential to the case have been the 2 handguns discovered within the Nissan, one in every of which appeared to have fired photographs exterior the house of state Sen. Linda Lopez roughly 40 minutes earlier than the visitors cease and 4 miles away, in response to the newest police assertion.

One of many weapons matches the outline of 1 police allege Peña took to one of many 4 shootings with plans to hitch within the gunfire, in response to the assertion. The gun malfunctioned, and he left the taking pictures to one of many males he employed, police alleged. “One other shooter fired greater than a dozen rounds from a separate handgun,” police mentioned of their assertion Monday night time.

As well as, a shell casing discovered within the Maxima matched these discovered on the scene of one other taking pictures, an incident exterior the house of recent state Home Speaker Javier Martinez on Dec. 8, police mentioned.

Another casing was present in one other car, reported stolen, that police say was utilized by one of many shooters allegedly employed by Peña. That casing matched to a Dec. 4 report of photographs fired exterior the house of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa in Southeast Albuquerque, police mentioned.

One other taking pictures, during which greater than a dozen photographs have been fired on the house of then-Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, happened Dec. 11 and completes the incidents police say are tied to Peña.

Two different shootings beforehand believed to have been linked to the case — Dec. 10 gunfire on the former marketing campaign workplace of Raúl Torrez, who was elected New Mexico’s lawyer normal, and Jan. 5 gunfire exterior the downtown regulation workplaces of newly appointed state Sen. Moe Maestas — have not been related to the suspect, police mentioned on the information convention.

On Jan. 9 police announced the arrest of another suspect within the case and mentioned they took possession of a firearm probably utilized in one of many shootings. On Monday, police mentioned 4 folks except for Peña have been concerned, with extra costs and arrests coming. The standing of the Jan. 9 suspect wasn’t clear, and police did not reply to a request for readability.

On Monday, Police Chief Harold Medina described Peña because the initiator of the shootings.

“It’s believed that he’s the mastermind behind this,” he mentioned at Monday’s information convention.

A SWAT staff arrested Peña at his house within the Albuquerque space Monday, police mentioned.

It wasn’t clear whether or not Peña has retained counsel for the case. There was no response to an inquiry despatched by way of his marketing campaign website. An organization related to Peña did not instantly reply to a request for remark.

The Albuquerque Journal describes Peña as an unsuccessful candidate for New Mexico Home District 14, which represents the Albuquerque space’s South Valley.

The newspaper reported throughout his marketing campaign final yr that Peña has a felony report. He served almost seven years in jail for housebreaking, it mentioned.

Police famous Monday night time that election winner Garcia unsuccessfully sued final yr to have Peña deemed ineligible to serve within the Legislature due to his felony conviction.

Peña is described in a marketing campaign electronic mail as a California native who accomplished highschool in New Mexico, grew to become a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to Okinawa, Japan, owns a enterprise and earned a political science diploma from the College of New Mexico in 2021.

On his marketing campaign web site, Peña vows a safer future for the state. “I’ll battle to supply alternative for the following era, hold the native financial system open, and cease those that want New Mexicans hurt — in any manner,” he mentioned.

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