Solomon Pena, a former Republican candidate for New Mexico state House who is accused of masterminding multiple shootings at the homes of Democratic lawmakers after he lost his race — is facing multiple criminal charges ahead of his first scheduled court appearance. No one was hurt in any of the shootings.
Pena,on four counts each of shooting at a dwelling or occupied building, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit a felony, along with one count each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful criminal solicitation. He was also charged with one felony count of “receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm or destructive device by certain persons.”
Pena, who is in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque,at the homes of four Democratic lawmakers in Albuquerque since early December, according to Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina. Pena hired four accomplices to fire bullets into the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners, Medina told reporters in a news conference Monday.
Another suspect wasbut it’s unclear whether that person is an accomplice in the case.
Police said that Pena falsely claimed that his own race, which he lost in a landslide in November to incumbent Democratic state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, was “rigged.”
Mayor Tim Keller called Pena, who ran on a “Make America Great Again” platform, a “right wing radical” and “election denier,” as well as “someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn to violence.”
Adriann Barboa, one of the elected officials who police said was targeted by Pena and his accomplices, said that Pena had confronted her at her home shortly after the election. As the commissioner of Bernillo County, she was involved in the process of certifying election votes. Barboa told CBS News Tuesday that Pena told her not to certify the election.
“He said, ‘I want results now,’ and he was definitely aggressive,” Barboa said.
Later in December, Barboa was returning home from Christmas shopping when she found evidence of gunfire.
“My home was shot right through my front door, four times, out my back window, right through my living room and kitchen, right where I had been playing, only hours before, with my brand-new grandbaby,” Barboa said.
No one was harmed in the shooting at Barboa’s home, or at any other crime scene. In one case, a state legislator’s 10-year-old daughter was awoken by bullet debris dropping onto her bed, but she was not physically harmed. According to a police report, Pena was unhappy with these outcomes, and asked his accomplices “to shoot lower into the houses and to do so earlier in the evening … when targets would be less likely (to) be lying down.”
State House Speaker Javier Martinez, another official who police said was targeted in the shootings, said that the events of the past month reminded him of violence in his birth country of Mexico.
“(Mexico) is a place where politics and journalism can actually get you killed,” Martinez said. “I would have never thought that could be the case in my own country, here.”