A failed Republican state legislative candidate was detained on Monday in connection with a string of drive-by shootings that targeted the residences of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city.
According to authorities, the failed candidate was upset about losing the election last November and made unfounded claims that the election was “rigged” against him.
Following Solomon Pena’s arrest at his home by SWAT personnel on Monday evening, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina addressed the media.
According to Medina, Pena is the “mastermind” of what appears to be a criminal conspiracy with political overtones that resulted in four shootings between early December and early January at or close to the residences of two county commissioners and two state lawmakers.
The veteran Democrat representing House District 14 in the South Valley, Miguel P. Garcia, defeated Pena in the general election.
Garcia prevailed by 48 percent or about 3,600 votes.
Despite no proof of widespread voter fraud in New Mexico in 2020 or 2022, Pena, an election skeptic, sought county and state officials following his loss, according to police.
He claimed the battle had been rigged against him. A short while after their chats, the shootings started.
New Mexico’s state canvassing board unanimously confirmed the results of the November election.
Mayor Tim Keller stated that this radicalism is dangerous to the country and has reached Albuquerque, New Mexico.
At least five people, including Pena, were allegedly involved in the shootings, according to Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock.
According to Hartsock, Pena is charged with bribing the other shooters to carry out at least two of the shootings before “Pena himself” reportedly “fired the trigger” during one of the crimes.
Using a combination of telephone records, witness testimonies, and bullet casings found at the politicians’ residences, police claimed to have identified Pena as their “primary” suspect.
One week after Medina, the police chief, first disclosed they had identified a suspect in the shootings, an arrest had been made.
According to jail records as of Monday night, Pena does not have a lawyer to comment on the accusations.
The shootings, which took place amid increased threats against members of Congress, school board members, election officials, and other government employees across the country, left no one hurt.
Albuquerque law enforcement has been working to confront consecutive years of record homicides and ongoing gun violence.
Hartsock stated that additional arrests and charges in the case were anticipated but chose not to go into detail due to the continuing investigation.
He claimed that some people, including Pena, were in police custody on Monday evening.
In the upcoming days, a criminal complaint specifying the precise charges against Pena was anticipated to be made public.
Adriann Barboa, a commissioner for Bernalillo County, was shot eight times at her house in the early days of December, according to the police.
Days later, Debbie O’Malley’s home, a former Bernalillo County Commissioner, came under attack.
State Representative Javier Martinez looked over his property after the shootings and found damage from gunfire.
Police think the shooting took place around the beginning of December.
Then, in the first week of January, gunfire erupted at the residence of state senator Linda Lopez, who served as the principal proponent of a 2021 measure that would have lifted the state’s restriction on the majority of abortion procedures.
Three of the bullets, according to Lopez’s statement, went through the bedroom of her 10-year-old daughter.
Police were looking into two further shootings, one near the former campaign headquarters of New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez and the other at the office of state Senator Antonio Maestas.
However, Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the police force, stated on Monday that it doesn’t seem like the gunshots are related to the investigation.