A 40-year-old failed GOP candidate was indicted on federal charges for a series of drive-by shootings at the homes of Democratic lawmakers in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Solomon Peña, who was apparently angry about his defeat and made baseless claims about a “rigged” election, was arrested January 16, just hours after SWAT officers had served search warrants at his home. He’s been held without bail since his arrest on state charges, which will now be dismissed in light of the new federal indictment.
Wednesday’s indictment took aim at not just Peña but also two alleged accomplices as well. The charges against them are related to conspiracy and weapons in connection to the December and January shootings at the homes of four Democratic officials, including the current state House speaker.
In 2022 Peña had lost his run for state House District 14 by roughly 3,600 against incumbent Democratic Rep. Miguel P. Garcia. New Mexico’s state Canvassing Board unanimously certified the results of the November election.
Peña is accused of paying and conspiring with his accomplices to shoot at the politicians’ homes.
“Peña targeted several of these public officials because, in their official capacity, they certified the election, which he lost,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez at a news conference. “In America, voters pick their leaders, and would-be leaders don’t get to pick which voters they heed, which rules apply to them, or which laws to follow.”
No one was injured in the shootings. But in one case bullets passed through the bedroom of a state senator’s 10-year-old daughter.
The new indictment outlines smart-phone communications, including text messages by Peña, made in the days following the November election. The communiques pinpoint the locations of officials’ homes.
In one text message made hours before the first shooting on December 4, Peña reportedly tells a political ally, who also lost a bid for election that November, that “we have to act. I’m continuing my study of election rigging. The enemy will eventually break.”
“This type of radicalism is a threat to our nation and has made its way to our doorstep right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” said Mayor Tim Keller (D) at the time of Peña’s arrest. “But I know we are going to push back, and we will not allow this to cross the threshold.”
Peña’s defense attorney, Elizabeth Honce, said her client maintains his innocence.