Albuquerque Police on Monday arrested a former Republican candidate, who lost a state election in November and falsely claimed the election was “rigged,” in connection with a string of shootings targeting Democratic lawmakers and officials in New Mexico.
Solomon Pena was taken into custody on Monday evening by a SWAT team that also executed search warrants at his home, police said in a press conference.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said Pena was “the mastermind” behind a series of shootings that targeted the homes of two state lawmakers and two county commissioners that took place between December and January.
Pena is accused of paying four men to carry out at least two of the four shootings using stolen cars, while Pena himself carried out the shooting in one of the instances, police said.
Pena lost to incumbent Democratic state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia in November’s state House elections by a landslide margin of 48 points.
In the last post made on his official Twitter account, Pena expressed his support for former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign and added that he had “never conceded” his race and was “researching” his options.
During his campaign and after losing the election, Pena repeated the baseless claim that the election was rigged in favor of his opponent.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller tweeted: “This radicalism is a threat to our city, our state, and our nation. We will continue to push back against hate in all forms and stop political violence.”
A day after losing to his Democratic opponent by a landslide, Pena tweeted, “I dissent. I am the MAGA king.” A few days later he would visit the homes of three Bernalillo County commissioners and State Senator Linda Lopez (D) with paperwork to complain about the results and baselessly claim that the elections were rigged. Police say the officials and the senator were “puzzled and surprised” by Pena’s claims and one of the visits even triggered “quite an argument.” The shootings would take place shortly after these visits and one of the homes targeted belonged to State Sen. Lopez. In July, the Albuquerque Journal reported Pena’s past criminal convictions, including felony burglary and larceny convictions. Even if he had won the election, Pena’s criminal record may have blocked him from taking office as a state law bars people with prior felonies from holding elected office.
Failed Republican candidate arrested in shootings targeting Democratic politicians’ homes (The Albuquerque Journal)