ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A failed Republican state legislative candidate who authorities say was indignant about shedding the election final November and made baseless claims that the election was “rigged” in opposition to him has been arrested Monday in reference to a collection of shootings. meant for the homes of the democratic parliamentarians in New Mexico’s largest metropolis.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina held a press convention Monday night time after SWAT officers arrested Solomon Pena at his residence.
Medina described Pena because the “mastermind” of what seems to be a politically motivated legal conspiracy that led to 4 shootings at or close to the properties of two county commissioners and two state legislators between early December and early January
Pena misplaced in November to the incumbent State Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, the longtime Democrat who represents Home District 14 within the South Valley. Garcia gained by 48 proportion factors, or about 3,600 votes.
Police mentioned Pena, an electoral denier, approached county and state lawmakers after his loss, claiming the competition was rigged in opposition to him regardless of no proof of voter fraud widespread in New Mexico in 2020 or 2022. The shootings started shortly after these conversations.
The New Mexico State Board of Canvassing unanimously licensed the outcomes of the November election.
“This sort of radicalism is a risk to our nation and has made its technique to our doorstep right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” mentioned Mayor Tim Keller. “However I do know we’ll push it again, and we’re not going to let this cross the brink.”
Deputy Commander Kyle Hartsock mentioned not less than 5 folks, together with Pena, had been concerned within the shootings. Pena is accused of paying others to hold out not less than two of the shootings, based on Hartsock, earlier than “Pena himself” allegedly “pulled the set off” throughout one of many crimes.
Police mentioned they recognized Pena as their “key” suspect utilizing a mix of cellphone information, witness interviews and bullet casings collected from the lawmakers’ properties. His arrest comes every week after Medina, the police chief, initially introduced they’d recognized a suspect within the capturing.
An lawyer for Pena who may touch upon the allegations was not listed Monday night time in jail information.
Nobody was injured within the shootings, which got here amid a surge in threats in opposition to members of Congress, faculty board members, election officers and different authorities staff throughout the nation. In Albuquerque, regulation enforcement has struggled to deal with consecutive years of file homicides and chronic gun violence.
Hartsock mentioned further arrests and prices had been anticipated within the case, however declined to elaborate, citing the continued investigation. He mentioned some people, together with Pena, had been in custody Monday night time.
A legal grievance outlining the precise prices in opposition to Pena was anticipated to be launched within the coming days.
The capturing started in early December when eight rounds had been fired on the residence of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa, police mentioned. Days later, the house of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley was focused.
When information studies started to floor in regards to the shootings, Rep. state Javier Martinez examined his property and found gunshot harm. Police consider the capturing occurred in early December.
Then, through the first week of January, pictures had been fired on the residence of state senator Linda Lopez – a lead sponsor of a 2021 invoice that may have repealed New Mexico’s ban on most procedures of abortion.
Lopez mentioned in an announcement that three of the bullets went via her 10-year-old daughter’s bed room.
Police had been investigating two further shootings — one close to the previous marketing campaign workplace of New Mexico Legal professional Normal Raul Torrez and one other on the state workplace of Sen. Antonio Maestas. However Gilbert Gallegos, a police division spokesman, mentioned Monday that the shootings didn’t seem like linked to the case.