Solomon Peña: Failed state GOP candidate visited 3 Democratic officials’ homes before allegedly targeting them in shootings, police say



CNN

A former Republican candidate for New Mexico’s legislature, arrested on suspicion of orchestrating four recent shootings at the homes of Democratic leaders, visited the homes of at least three officials to discuss election results, Albuquerque police said.

Solomon Pena, who lost his 2022 race for state House District 14, is accused of paying and conspiring with four men to shoot up the homes of two state lawmakers and two county commissioners.

According to police:

The home of Bernillo County Commissioner Adrian Barbova was shot multiple times on December 4.

Incoming state House Speaker Javier Martinez’s home was shot at on Dec. 8.

Former Bernillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s home was shot on Dec. 11.

On Jan. 3, state Sen. Linda Lopez’s house was shot at.

Albuquerque police said Peña went to another commissioner’s home to discuss the election, but that commissioner “did not report any shots fired.”

No one was injured in any of the shootings. Pena is accused of attempting to participate in at least one of the shootings, Albuquerque police said. He was arrested by the police SWAT team on Monday.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the investigation “reveals that these shootings are truly politically motivated.” He called Pena an “election rejection.”

After losing the election, Pena met with a state senator and two county commissioners at their home, claiming the election was rigged, Albuquerque police said.

Pena was arrested on preliminary charges of felon in possession of a firearm; tried aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; Criminal Appeal; and four counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling, shooting at or at a motor vehicle and conspiracy, according to the warrant.

CNN reached out to Pena’s campaign website for comment and could not identify his attorney.

False and unsubstantiated claims about election fraud have exploded nationwide in recent years and fueled anger and threats of violence against elected officials — even in local politics.

Barbova, who became a county commissioner on Dec. 4, told CNN about an “irregular” encounter with Pena before the shooting.

“He came to my house after the election and he refused the election. He weaponized those dangerous thoughts to threaten me and others, causing serious trauma,” Barboa told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.

“He was saying the elections were fake… I didn’t feel threatened at the time, but I felt he was being arbitrary.”

Similarly, former Bernillo County Commissioner O’Malley told police that Pena was at his home just days before the Dec. 11 shooting, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by Albuquerque police.

“Debbie recalled being upset that Debbie O’Malley had not won an election for public office, even though she was not a contender,” the affidavit states.

Ring doorbell camera video shows Pena looking for Debbie O'Malley at the address where she lived.

Footage from a ring doorbell camera recorded at O’Malley’s former residence and obtained by CNN shows Pena approaching the door and knocking with documents in hand.

The current resident speaks to him through the camera’s speaker feature, tells him that O’Malley no longer lives at the residence, and directs him to his new home.

Although no one was injured in any of the shootings, Pena “had the intent to cause serious injury or death to the occupants of their homes,” the arrest warrant affidavit reads.

“After his failed (political) campaign, there is probable cause to believe that he conspired to commit these four shootings,” the affidavit states.

Firearm evidence, surveillance footage, witness accounts and cell phone and electronic records helped authorities connect five people to the alleged conspiracy, Albuquerque Police Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said Monday.

Pena was first linked to a Jan. 3 shooting at Lopez’s home.

That day, Lopez “heard loud booms but dismissed them as fireworks at the time,” she told police.

But her 10-year-old daughter woke up with a spider crawling on her face and sand in her bed. The affidavit says it was sheetrock dust blown into the child’s face by a bullet that passed through her bedroom.

Police later found “12 effects” at the state senator’s home and shell casings nearby, according to the affidavit.

About 40 minutes after the shooting, a deputy spotted a silver Nissan Maxima with an “improperly displayed license plate sticker” about four miles from Lopez’s home and conducted a traffic stop, the affidavit states.

The Nissan was registered to Peña — but was being driven by another man at the time, who had a felony warrant for his arrest, the affidavit states.

In the trunk, the deputy found a Glock handgun with a drum magazine and an AR pistol, police said. The handgun matched a shell casing from the MLA’s house, police said in a news release.

Investigators linked Pena to shootings at other officers’ homes. On Monday, detectives served search warrants at Pena’s apartment and the home of two men paid by Pena, police said.

Albuquerque police released the photo

“After the election in November, Solomon Pena made a deal for cash with someone to carry out at least two of these shootings. The shooting addresses were given over the phone,” Hartsock said Monday, referring to the investigation.

“Within hours, in one case, there was a shooting at a lawmaker’s house.”

One of the conspirators initially told the shooters to “aim at the windows to avoid hitting anyone inside,” the affidavit reads, citing a confidential witness with knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.

But Pena eventually wanted the shooters to be “more aggressive” and “aimed down and shoot around 8 p.m. because residents don’t sleep often,” the affidavit states, citing a confidential witness.

In the most recent shooting, police found evidence “Pena himself went … and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the guns that was used,” Hartsock said. But the AR handgun he tried to use malfunctioned and another shooter fired more than a dozen rounds, a police news release said.

Authorities are still investigating whether the shooting suspects “knew who these targets were or if they were just shooting.”

Peña — who lost 26% to 74% to Democratic state Rep. Miguel Garcia — has publicly accused the race of being rigged, his Twitter account shows.

“Trump has declared for 2024. I stand with him. I never agreed to my HD 14 race. Now researching my options,” Pena said. He tweeted November 15 after losing his race.

On January 2, in response to those who asked if his election was rigged, Pena He tweeted: “C, mine is also ready. And I will fight until the day I die.

Recently, on January 9, Pena had tweeted that he did not lose the election Post “When we finally defeat the rigged NM elections, oh, I’ll be the leader! MAGA NATION 4 EVER!”

Keller, Albuquerque’s Democratic mayor, called Pena a “far-right extremist” and a “dangerous criminal.”

“This kind of radicalism is a threat to our nation and has made its way to our doorstep in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but we will push back against hate,” Keller said in a statement.

“Differences of opinion are fundamental to democracy, but differences should never lead to violence.”

In addition to making unsupported claims about the election results, Pena also responded to several Twitter users who cited his criminal history and time spent in prison.

During the fall campaign, Pena’s opponent Garcia filed a lawsuit to have Pena removed from the ballot, arguing that Pena’s ex-felon status should prevent him from running for public office in the state, CNN affiliate KOAT reported.

Pena served nearly years in prison after being accused of stealing large quantities of goods in a “smash and grab scheme” in 2008, a KOAT report said.

KOAT reports that a district court judge has allowed Pena to contest the election.



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