Solomon Peña: The failed Republican state nominee visited the homes of 3 Democratic officials before targeting them for shooting, according to police.



CNN

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

Solomon Peña, who lost the 2022 race in the 14th state assembly election, is accused of paying and conspiring with four men to shoot up the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners.

According to the police:

The home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adrian Barbois was shot multiple times on December 4.

Shots were fired at the home of incoming House Speaker Javier Martinez on December 8.

The home of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley was shot at on December 11th.

Senator Linda Lopez’s home was shot on January 3.

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

No one was injured in any of the shootings. Albuquerque police said Peña is also accused of attempting to participate in at least one shooting himself. He was captured by a police SWAT team on Monday.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keeler said the investigation concluded that “these shootings were indeed politically motivated.” He called Peña an “election denier”.

Albuquerque police said that after losing the election, Peña called the state senator and two county commissioners to their homes with papers alleging election fraud.

Peña was arrested on preliminary charges of felony firearm possession; attempt a tight battery with a deadly weapon; Criminal solicitation and four counts of shooting into an inhabited dwelling, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, and conspiracy, according to a court order.

CNN reached out to Peña’s campaign website for comment and was unable to identify his attorney.

False and unfounded allegations of election fraud have spread across the country in recent years and sparked outrage and threats of violence against elected officials — even in local politics.

Barboa, the county commissioner whose home was murdered multiple times on Dec. 4, told CNN of an “erratic” encounter with Peña prior to the shooting.

He came to my house after the elections and he is dismissive of the elections. Barbois told CNN This Morning on Tuesday that he used these dangerous thoughts as a weapon to threaten me and others, causing serious trauma.

“He was saying the election was rigged… I didn’t feel threatened at the time, but I did feel he was a weirdo.”

Similarly, O’Malley—the former Bernalillo County commissioner—told police that Peña was at her home just days before the shootings there on Dec. 11, according to an arrest warrant obtained from Albuquerque police.

“Debbie recalled that he was upset that he had not won the election for public office, even though Debbie O’Malley was not a contestant,” the affidavit read.

Ring camera footage on the doorbell recorded at O’Malley’s former residence and obtained by CNN shows Peña approaching the door and banging, holding documents in his hands.

The current resident speaks to him through the camera’s speaker feature, telling him that O’Malley no longer lives in this house and directing him to her new home.

While no one was injured in any of the shootings, Peña “intended to (cause) serious injury or cause death to the occupants of their homes,” the written arrest warrant states.

“There is probable cause to believe that shortly after his unsuccessful (political) campaign, he conspired … to commit these four shootings” at the homes of officials, the affidavit states.

Evidence of firearms, surveillance footage and witness accounts as well as cell phones and electronic records helped officials link five people to the alleged plot, the Albuquerque Deputy Sheriff said. Kyle Hartsock said Monday.

Peña was first connected to the shooting on January 3 at Lopez’s home.

That day, Lopez heard “a loud bang but she described it as fireworks at the time,” she told police.

But her 10-year-old daughter woke up thinking a spider was crawling on her face and that there was sand in her bed. The affidavit stated that it turned out to be rock dust that was blown into the child’s face from a bullet that passed through her bedroom.

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

About 40 minutes after the shooting, a deputy discovered a silver Nissan Maxima with an “incorrectly displayed license plate sticker” about four miles from Lopez’s home and stopped in traffic, the affidavit says.

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

Police said the deputy found a Glock pistol with a drum magazine and an AR pistol in the trunk. Police said in a press release that the gun matched the shell casing of the legislator’s home.

Investigators then linked Peña with shootings at the homes of the other officials. On Monday, police said, investigators issued search warrants at Peña’s apartment and the home of two men allegedly paid by Peña.

Albuquerque Police released a photo of A

“After the election in November, Solomon Peña reached out and contracted someone for cash to commit at least two shootings. Addresses of the shootings were sent over the phone,” Hartsock said Monday, citing the investigation.

“Within hours, in one case, a shooting took place at the legislator’s home.”

The affidavit, quoting a confidential witness with knowledge of the alleged plot, said that one of the conspirators told the shooters to “take aim over the windows to avoid hitting anyone inside.”

But Pena ultimately wanted the shooters to be “more aggressive” and “aim less and shoot around 8 p.m. because the occupants probably won’t get laid,” the affidavit said, citing a confidential witness.

In the latest shooting, Hartsock said, police found evidence that “Peña went himself … and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the firearms that were used.” But a police press release said the AR he tried to use malfunctioned, and more than 12 rounds were fired by another shooter.

Hartsock said authorities were still investigating whether the suspected shooters “even knew who these targets were or if they were just shooting.”

Peña, who lost the election to Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia 26% to 74% – has publicly alleged that the race was rigged, as his Twitter account shows.

Trump just announced for 2024. I stand with him. I never gave up on my HD 14 race. I’m now looking at my options,” Peña chirp November 15 after losing his race.

On January 2, in response to someone who asked him if his election was rigged, Benya chirp: “Si, mine was also forged. I will resist it until the day I die.”

The last time Peña tweeted that he had not lost the election was on January 9, when he Spread “When we finally defeat the rigged North Mediterranean election, oh, I’ll be the champ! MAGA Nation 4ever!”

Keeler, the Democratic mayor of Albuquerque, called Peña a “right-wing extremist” and a “dangerous criminal”.

“This type of extremism is a threat to our nation and has made its way to our doorstep here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but we will continue to fight back,” Keller said in a statement.

“Differences of opinion are essential to democracy, but differences should not lead to violence.”

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

During the fall campaign, Peña’s opponent García sued to get Peña off the ballot, arguing that Peña’s status as an ex-felon should prevent him from running for public office in the state, according to CNN affiliate KOAT.

The KOAT report said Peña spent nearly years in prison after being convicted in 2008 of stealing a large amount of merchandise in a “smash-and-grab scheme”.

A district court judge reported that Benya was allowed to run.

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