Failed Republican state candidate masterminded shootings at Democrats’ homes

A failed Republican state legislature candidate was arrested Monday in New Mexico for masterminding shootings at Democrats’ homes because he was bitter about election results. 

SWAT officers arrested Solomon Peña at his home Monday night in connection with four shootings at or near the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators over the last month-and-a-half.

Peña lost an election in November to incumbent state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia by 3,600 votes, but had claimed to other legislators that the election was “rigged” despite no evidence of any fraud in the state.

A total of five people were involved in the shootings, with Peña paying at least two of them to carry out the shootings before pulling the trigger himself during one of them.

Pena masterminded shootings

No one was injured in any of the shootings, but they contributed to an atmosphere of threats against lawmakers.

Police used cell phone data and witness statements to identify Peña as the mastermind of the shootings, and arrested him a week after the police chief announced a suspect in the case.

Others were arrested along with Peña, and police said more arrests are expected.

Lawmakers targeted

In early December, eight rounds were fired at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa, police said. A few days later, former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s home was also shot at.

When the first two shootings hit the news, state Rep. Javier Martinez discovered bullet casings near his home that police think were shot around the same time in early December.

State Sen. Linda Lopez also had her home shot at in early January, including three shots that she said penetrated her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom while she slept.

Peña, 38, is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, four counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling, four counts of shooting at or from a moving vehicle, one count of attempted aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, four counts of conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

Two other shootings unrelated

Police were led to Peña after a traffic stop of a car registered to him that had over 800 pills, an assault rifle, and a handgun that was matched to the shell casings found at Lopez’s house.

Two additional shootings in the area were initially thought to be connected to the other four, but police now say they were probably unrelated.