The Albuquerque Police Department has arrested Solomon Pena, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the House District 14 seat in the South Valley, in connection with the shootings at local Democratic politicians’ homes, the police chief announced Monday afternoon.
“Pena, an unsuccessful legislative candidate in the 2022 election, is accused of conspiring with, and paying four other men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators,” Chief Harold Medina said.
APD had been investigating six shootings from Dec. 4 through Jan. 5 where bullets were fired into Democratic elected officials homes or near others offices.
On Dec. 4 eight shots were fired into County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s Southeast Albuquerque home. On Dec. 11 more than 12 bullets hit County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s North Valley home. Sometime in early December, state Rep. Javier Martinez’s home was shot up, although the damage was not found until after the investigation into the other shootings was announced. On Jan. 3, shots rang out at state Rep. Linda Lopez’s home and three bullets went through her daughter’s bedroom as the 10-year-old slept.
APD was also investigating whether shots fired near the campaign office for Raúl Torrez as he ran for state Attorney General and near the office of State Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas were also connected to the string of shootings.
Gilbert Gallegos, an APD spokesman, said Monday that officers don’t have any evidence linking the group to those shootings at this time.
Around 3:30 p.m. – following a SWAT standoff near the ABQ BioPark – officers could be seen arresting a man in glasses wearing a sweatshirt and walking him to a police car at 14th and Coal SW.
Prior to the arrest officers could be heard commanding “Solomon Pena please come out with your hands up, we have the place surrounded.” Pena lost by more than 3,600 votes to incumbent Democrat Rep. Miguel P. Garcia in the November election.
The address Pena had provided to the New Mexico Secretary of State when he ran for office matched the tall residential building where the SWAT standoff took place.
Pena’s candidacy came under scrutiny over the summer when Garcia filed a court challenge to disqualify him because he had been convicted in 2008 of stealing large amounts of goods from several big box retail stores in a reported “smash and grab” scheme.
Photos: Suspect taken in to custody after brief standoff
Pena served nearly seven years in prison.
District Judge Joshua Allison ruled that a state law barring felons from holding office unless they are pardoned by the governor is unconstitutional so Pena remained on the ballot. He said that the state Constitution allows legislators to enact laws on voting rights of felons and their ability to run for elected office, but not to distinguish between the two by imposing additional requirements.
Pena lost the election by more than 3,600 votes, garnering 2,033 votes to Garcia’s 5,679.
In frequent postings on his Twitter account, Pena, 39, has maintained that he didn’t lose and that the election was rigged.
Here’s the latest on the recent string of shootings at ABQ-area politicians’ homes and offices
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