An Albuquerque SWAT team arrested Solomon Peña, a failed Republican candidate for the state’s legislature, for allegedly being the “mastermind” behind a series of targeted shootings at the homes of several Democratic elected officials.
The police said in a statement that Mr. Peña had paid four men cash and “sent text messages with addresses where he wanted them to shoot at the homes.”
Peña was the GOP candidate running for state representative against Rep. Miguel Garcia, a Democrat. Peña lost the election in a landslide against the incumbent Garcia — garnering 2,033 votes to Garcia’s 5,679.
Peña’s candidacy came under scrutiny over the summer when Rep. Garcia, D-Albuquerque, 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.
Peña had served nearly seven years in prison.
A district judge ruled in Peña’s favor, saying that a state law that bars felons from holding office unless they are pardoned by the governor was unconstitutional.
An appeal was planned. “We’re not disappointed,” said Jacob Candelaria, an Albuquerque state senator who is representing longtime state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, D-Albuquerque, in the case. “This is all part of the process.”
Kyle Hartsock, deputy commander of the Police Department’s homicide unit, said on Monday that the police “have somebody who is involved inside this conspiracy who is talking to police.” That person, he said, helped confirm that Mr. Peña was at the Jan. 3 shooting.
- On Dec. 4 around 4:41 p.m. eight shots were fired at County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s home in SE Albuquerque. Barboa said bullets went through her front door as her family was preparing to celebrate Christmas.
- On Dec. 8, Rep Javier Martínez reportedly heard gunshots outside his home near the North Valley and, after the investigation was announced a month later, found damage “presumably from gunfire” to the house.
- On Dec. 11 in the early morning gunshots were fired at County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s home in the North Valley and more than 12 bullets struck the house.
- On Jan. 3 just after midnight, eight shots rang out at Rep. Linda Lopez’s home in SW Albuquerque. Lopez said that three bullets went through her daughter’s bedroom as the 10-year-old slept.