Solomon Peña, a former Republican candidate who lost his bid for a State House seat in November, was arrested by police for being behind a series of recent shootings that targeted the homes of Democratic elected officials.
According to the Albuquerque journal, Peña allegedly paid men to shoot up the homes after he lost his 2022 election bid. Peña has repeatedly claimed that the election was rigged.
Albuquerque police (APD) arrested Peña on the evening of Jan. 16, several hours after the APD’s SWAT team served search warrants at his home. Police Chief Harold Medina of the APD said that Peña was “the mastermind” behind the conspiracy.
“Peña, an unsuccessful legislative candidate in the 2022 election, is accused of conspiring with and paying, four other men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators,” said Police Chief Medina.
Additionally, the police sent out a statement that said Peña had paid the men in cash and sent them text messages with the addresses he wanted them to shoot at.
The shootings started on Dec. 4, 2022, when eight rounds were fired at the home of Adriann Barboa, a Bernalillo County commissioner. Four days later, on Dec. 8, shots were fired at the home of Javier Martinez, a state representative. Then, on Dec. 11, shots were fired at the home of Debbie O’Malley, another Bernalillo County commissioner.
The final shooting took place in early January 2023 when the house of State Senator Linda Lopez was targeted. After the shooting at Lopez’s house the police caught a break in the case. They received a ShotSpotter notification after more than a dozen shots were fired after midnight on Jan. 3. Responding officers found shell casings on the scene.
Twenty-one-year-old Jose Trujillo was pulled over 40 minutes after the shootings driving a car registered to Peña. Trujillo was arrested on an unrelated warrant, and weapons found in his car matched the shell casings found outside the Lopez home.
Kyle Hartsock, APD acting Commander with the Investigative Enhancement Division, says Peña was present for the shooting at the Lopez home. He says electronic records, cellphone records, surveillance footage, and witnesses, have helped police weave together what occurred. The shooters are still under investigation, and Hartsock says charges are likely to be filed against more people.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, in 2008 Peña began serving nearly 7-years in prison for theft, which was a topic of debate during his political campaign. His opponent, Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, unsuccessfully tried to havePeña disqualified due to his past conviction. Garcia won the election by a margin of 3,600 votes.
The New Mexico Republican Party sent out a statement on Monday night following Peña’s arrest: “If Peña is found guilty, he must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”