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Ex-GOP candidate arrested over shootings at Democrats’ homes

Crime scene tape and police lights. (Dreamstime/TNS)
January 17, 2023

A failed Republican candidate was arrested Monday evening in connection with a series of drive-by shootings targeting the homes of Democratic officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said the Republican, 39-year-old Solomon Pena, was the “mastermind” behind a string of four shootings after the November election, the Associated Press reported.

There were no injuries in the shootings, but three bullets passed through the bedroom of a state senator’s 10-year-old daughter during one.

Pena is accused of paying four men in cash to carry out at least two of the shootings using stolen vehicles, and Pena himself “pulled the trigger” during one of the shootings, according to Deputy Police Commander Kyle Hartsock.

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Pena lost his race against incumbent state Rep. Miguel Garcia by 48 percentage points, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State. Police said after the election, Pena showed up uninvited at the homes of elected officials with documents he said proved he’d actually won.

The first shooting came soon after on Dec. 4, with eight rounds fired at Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s home. On Dec. 11, more than a dozen rounds were fired at the home of County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley.

More than a dozen shots were also fired at the home of state Sen. Linda Lopez around midnight on Jan. 3, three of which passed through her daughter’s bedroom. 

State Rep. Javier Martínez, reacting to the reported shootings earlier this month, inspected his home and said he found evidence of an “act of gun violence.” He told police he’d heard gunshots in the area in early December, Source New Mexico reported.

Those are the four shootings that police consider related to Pena, while two other shootings at state officials’ homes were initially also considered, AP reported.

A break in the case came after a gunfire-detecting device led police to respond to Lopez’s home. About an hour after the shooting, police arrested a man driving a car registered to Pena, which contained a handgun that matched bullet casings found at the scene. The driver, Jose Trujillo, was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

More arrests and charges are expected to come, but police declined to comment on the ongoing investigation, AP reported.

The last tweet on Pena’s campaign Twitter account came on Nov. 15. 

“Trump just announced for 2024,” Pena wrote. “I stand with him. I never conceded my HD 14 race. Now researching my options.”