Ex-New Mexico state GOP candidate arrested in shootings at Democrats' homes
Albuquerque police said Monday they have arrested Solomon Peña, an unsuccessful Republican candidate in the last state House elections, in connection with recent shootings at the offices and homes of elected Democratic officials.
Driving the news: Peña, who ran as a candidate for the House District 14 seat in the South Valley, was arrested at a residential building near the ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque after a standoff with a SWAT team following police concerns that the suspect could be armed, a City of Albuquerque spokesperson confirmed to Axios.
- The building was the same address he gave to the New Mexico Secretary of State for his election campaign, per the Albuquerque Journal.
- Before the arrest, Journal reporters on the scene heard police say: "Solomon Peña, please come out with your hands up; we have the place surrounded."
For the record: Peña's arrest follows that of another suspect on Jan. 9 in connection with the six shootings that police believe targeted the Democratic officials.
What we're watching: Peña is accused of conspiring with and paying four other men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators, per a tweet from Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina.
- Medina at a news conference Monday said "it is believed that [Peña] is the mastermind behind this."
- New Mexico court records did not list an attorney for Peña as of late Monday.
Context: Albuquerque police had been investigating the shootings that began on Dec. 4, when Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa's home was targeted.
- Police said multiple shots were fired at the home of former commissioner Debbie O’Malley a week later and then at the home of state Sen. Linda Lopez on Jan. 3 and also at the office of state Sen. Moe Maestas on Jan. 5.
- It later emerged that the campaign headquarters of Raúl Torrez, New Mexico's newly elected attorney general, and the house of incoming N.M. House Speaker Javier Martinez, had also been targeted last month.
Background: After losing his election by a wide margin, Peña tweeted that he wasn't conceding the race. Police allege that he also visited three of the targeted officials' homes unannounced to complain the election was fraudulent.
Flashback: Peña in November posted online a photo of himself with the comment: "This is one of the last pictures I have of the Jan 06 trip. I lost that phone at the Trump rally in Phoenix, July 2021. Make America Great Again!"
What they're saying: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in a statement Monday commended law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office's actions following Peña's arrest.
- "There is no place in our society or our democracy for violence against any elected official or their families, and I trust the justice system will hold those responsible for such attacks to full and fair account," Grisham added.
- The Republican Party of New Mexico said in a statement that the allegations against Peña are serious "and he should be held accountable if the charges are validated in court."
Editor's note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.