Wannabe GOP Candidate Orchestrated Shootings at NM Democrats’ Homes, Cops Say


A failed Republican candidate for the New Mexico state legislature was arrested Monday in connection with a string of recent shootings at the homes and offices of local Democratic officials, police said.

Solomon Pena, 39, is accused of conspiring with four other men whom he allegedly paid to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said. “It is believed that he is the mastermind behind this,” Medina said, according to NBC News.

After ballistics evidence from one of the shootings led investigators to link him to the case, Pena was taken into custody by a SWAT team in Albuquerque following a brief standoff. Footage of the arrest taken by an Albuquerque Journal reporter showed a man in glasses and a sweatshirt meekly being escorted to a squad car before being patted down and placed inside the vehicle.

The first of the four incidents tied to Pena occurred on Dec. 4, when eight rounds were fired at the southeast Albuquerque home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa. On Dec. 10, the former campaign offices of Raúl Torrez, the state’s new attorney general, were assailed by gunfire. Just one day after that, more than a dozen gunshots hit the home of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley.

Finally, on Jan. 3, eight shots were fired at the home of state Senator Linda Lopez, who said in a statement that three of the bullets had passed through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

“APD essentially discovered what we had all feared, and what we all suspected, that these shootings were indeed politically motivated,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Monday.

Police said they had no evidence to connect Pena to two other similar shootings in recent weeks—a Dec. 10 incident at the home of State House Speaker-elect Javier Martinez, and a Jan. 5 report from outside the offices of newly appointed state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas.

No injuries were reported in relation to any of the six shootings.

Less than a month before the shooting at Barboa’s home, Pena lost the race for New Mexico House’s 14th District, which oversees the South Valley area of Albuquerque, by 47 percentage points. His Democratic opponent, state Rep. Miguel Garcia, secured 5,679 votes to Peña’s 2,033, according to the Journal.

“I dissent,” Pena tweeted on Nov. 9. “I am the MAGA king.”

In the days following his defeat, Pena repeatedly insisted he had not lost the election, tweeting on Nov. 15 that he “never conceded my HD 14 race” and that he was “[n]ow researching my options.”

Over the summer, Garcia mounted a legal challenge attempting to block Pena from running for office, arguing that the 39-year-old’s conviction for a spate of “smash and grab” robberies targeting several big-box stores in 2008 disqualified him. Pena served seven years in prison for the scheme. In September, a district judge ruled that a state law prohibiting former felons from holding office under most circumstances was unconstitutional, clearing the way for Pena’s candidacy.

“I had nothing more than a desire to improve my lot in life,” Pena said at the time, according to KOAT-TV.

State records obtained by the Santa Fe New Mexican in August reflected 19 felonies on Pena’s rap sheet, including “burglary, larceny, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and receiving stolen property,” the newspaper reported.

Reached for comment by the New Mexican, Pena initially invoked his Fifth Amendment privileges against self-incrimination before later telling the reporter that he believed only certain kinds of criminals, like “a child rapist,” would cause voters to balk at the ballot box. He later reportedly texted the reporter: “I hope you are rich. Be at peace.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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