Losing GOP Candidate Arrested For Shootings At Democratic Lawmakers’ Homes: A failed Republican candidate was detained in connection with a string of drive-by shootings that targeted the residences of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city. According to authorities, the candidate was enraged over his loss and made unfounded claims that the election in November was “rigged” against him.
Just hours after SWAT teams had him in custody and had search warrants issued at his house, Solomon Pena, 39, was detained and later arrested, according to the police.
Pena was referred to be the “mastermind” of what Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina claimed appeared to be a politically motivated plot that resulted in gunfire at the residences of two county commissioners and two state legislators between early December and early January.
The shootings did not result in any injuries, but in one incident, the bedroom of a state senator’s 10-year-old daughter was struck by three bullets.
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House District, 14 in the South Valley, is now held by veteran Democrat Miguel P. Garcia, who Pena unsuccessfully challenged in the November election. Garcia prevailed by 48 percent or about 3,600 votes.
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Police believe that Pena unexpectedly showed up at the houses of the elected officials after the election with what he said were documents showing his victory. In 2020 or 2022, there was no proof of significant voter fraud in New Mexico.
A short while after their chats, the shootings started.
“This type of radicalism is a threat to our nation and has made its way to our doorstep right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “But I know we will push back, and we will not allow this to cross the threshold.”
At least two of the drive-by shootings were carried out by four men working together with Pena, who is accused of giving them cash payments, while Pena “fired the trigger” in one of the crimes, according to deputy police commander Kyle Hartsock.
Police stated that detectives used telephone and car data, witness interviews, and bullet shells gathered at the politicians’ residences to identify Pena as their primary suspect. One week after Medina revealed they had a suspect in the shootings, he was apprehended.
According to jail records as of Monday night, Pena does not have a lawyer to comment on the accusations.
The shootings occurred amid an increase in threats against members of Congress, school board members, election officials, and other government employees around the country, but no one was hurt. Albuquerque law enforcement has failed to manage consecutive years of high homicides and ongoing gun violence.
The shootings started on December 4 when eight shots were fired at Adriann Barboa, a commissioner for Bernalillo County. Days later, the home of state representative Javier Martinez was attacked. On December 11, a shooting occurred at the residence of Debbie O’Malley, the county commissioner for Bernalillo. Police reported that more than a dozen bullets were fired at her home.
The residence of state senator Linda Lopez was the target of the final incidental shooting, which occurred at 00:00 on January 3. Three of the gunfire, according to Lopez, struck her daughter’s bedroom, who is 10 years old. The police reported that more than a dozen shots were fired.
An officer was directed to Lopez’s neighborhood shortly after the bullets were fired, thanks to technology that can identify the sound of gunshots.
In a Nissan Maxima with Pena’s registration, the officer discovered bullet shells that matched a weapon discovered later that morning. About an hour after Lopez’s home was shot, around 1:30 in the morning, police pulled over a Nissan about 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the legislator’s area.
More than 800 fentanyl pills and two firearms were found in the vehicle after the driver, Jose Trujillo, was taken into custody on a warrant, according to the police.
The former political candidate was due to face specific charges, which were expected to be detailed in a criminal complaint that would be made public soon. Additional arrests and charges were also anticipated, but authorities chose not to go into further detail due to the ongoing investigation.
Detectives were also looking into two other shootings that they initially thought might be connected to the Pena case: one near the former campaign office of former New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez and the other at the office of state Senator Antonio Maestas. As of Monday, the shootings don’t seem to be related, according to the police.
Monday night, the New Mexico Republican Party issued a statement denouncing Pena. “Pena must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if proven guilty.”
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