A former GOP candidate for the New Mexico legislature was arrested Monday, accused of conspiring with and paying four men to shoot at the homes of four elected officials, appearing to target Democrats.
Albuquerque police arrested Solomon Pena in connections with the shootings at the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two state legislators. Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said that Pena was the “mastermind” who orchestrated all of the shootings.
Officials announced earlier this month that they opened an investigation into the four shootings, which took place between Dec. 4 and Jan. 4.
Police said that these shootings were “politically motivated” and that Pena was an “election denier.”
Pena, who was the Republican candidate for New Mexico’s District 14 in November, lost to incumbent Democrat Miguel P. Garcia, only garnering 26 percent of the vote.
Pena had tweeted that he “never conceded” his race, and that he was “researching” his options. Police said in the press briefing that the loss may have contributed to his motivation for the shootings.
An Albuquerque Police spokesperson said that Pena had visited the homes of three county commissioners and one state senator, some of which were targeted in the shootings, to make his case that his election was stolen because of election fraud.
“One actually led to quite an argument, I believe,” the spokesperson said in the briefing. “So I think that plays into some of this, but it was shortly after when the shootings occurred, so that kind of suggests why they were targeted.”
Police said that Pena was in a car with another suspect right after the latest shooting took place. Police also say they found a gun in the car with ballistics indicating it was related to the attack.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller thanked law enforcement for their work on the investigation and condemned political extremism.
“This radicalism is a threat to our city, our state, and our nation,” Keller said in a statement. “We will continue to push back against hate in all forms and stop political violence.”
The police said that the investigation is “ongoing” as they continue the search for the other suspects, but that there is no threat to the public at the time.
New Mexico shootings