Politics

Former New Mexico GOP candidate indicted in shooting spree at Democrat officials’ homes

A grand jury has indicted a former Republican New Mexico state candidate in connection to a shooting spree targeting the homes of four elected officials following the 2022 midterm elections, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday. 

Solomon Peña, 40, ran for District 14 of the New Mexico House of Representatives during the November 2022 midterm elections. After his electoral defeat, Peña allegedly organized the shootings on the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two New Mexico state legislators, according to court documents. 

The officials targeted were all Democrats and included the current state House speaker. The shootings, one of which involved a machine gun, were carried out between Dec. 4, 2022, and Jan. 3, with assistance from co-conspirators Demetrio Trujillo, 41; Jose Trujillo, 22; and others, the Justice Department alleges.

The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, charges Peña, Demetrio Trujillo, and Jose Trujillo with conspiracy, interference with federally protected activities, and several firearms offenses, including the use of a machine gun. If convicted, Peña faces a mandatory minimum of 60 years in prison, federal prosecutors say. 

FAILED NEW MEXICO GOP CANDIDATE SOLOMON PEÑA DENIED BOND IN SHOOTING CASE

Jose Trujillo was also charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and firearms offenses, including possession of a machine gun.

Before the shootings, Peña visited the homes of at least three Bernalillo County commissioners and allegedly urged them not to certify the election results, claiming that the election had been “rigged” against him, according to court documents. Following the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners’ certification of the vote, Peña allegedly hired others to conduct the shootings and carried out at least one of the shootings himself. At least three of the shootings occurred while children and other relatives of the victims were at home, the DOJ says. 

“There is no room in our democracy for politically motivated violence, especially when it is used to undermine election results,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in a statement. “As alleged, Solomon Peña orchestrated four shootings at the homes of elected officials, in part because of their refusal to overturn his election defeat. Such violent actions target not only the homes and families of elected officials, but also our election system as a whole. The department will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable for acts of politically motivated violence.”

The shootings began Dec. 4, when eight rounds were fired at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa. Days later, state Rep. Javier Martínez’s home was targeted. On Dec. 11, more than a dozen rounds were fired at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, police said. Martínez became the Democratic state House speaker in January.

The final related shooting, targeting state Sen. Linda Lopez’s home, unfolded in the midnight hour of Jan. 3. Police said more than a dozen shots were fired, including three that Lopez said passed through the bedroom of her sleeping 10-year-old daughter. No one was injured in the shootings. 

SOLOMON PENA, EX-GOP CANDIDATE, PAID FOUR MEN TO SHOOT AT DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS’ HOMES IN NEW MEXICO: POLICE

The unsealed indictment outlines smart-phone communications including text messages by Peña in the days following the Nov. 8, 2022, election that pinpoint the locations of officials’ homes, allege election-rigging and confide to a political ally about plans to “press the attack.”

Text messages in the indictment show the 40-year-old candidate bristling with outrage as Bernalillo County commissions certified the results of the midterm election and his own overwhelming defeat as candidate for a seat in the state House of Representatives.

Hours before the first shooting on Dec. 4, Peña allegedly texted a Republican political ally, who also lost a bid for state representative, to say that “we have to act. I’m continuing my study of election rigging. The enemy will eventually break.” Amid the shootings, Peña later texted one of several unnamed conspirators in the indictment to say, “It is our duty as Statesmen and Patriots, to stop the oligarchs from taking over our country,” according to court documents. 

“In America, the integrity of our voting system is sacrosanct,” U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico said. “These charges strike at the heart of our democracy. Voters, candidates, and election officials must be free to exercise their rights and do their jobs safely and free from fear, intimidation, or influence, and with confidence that law enforcement and prosecuting offices will lead the charge when someone tries to silence the will of the people. To those who try to sow division, chaos, and fear into our democratic process, these charges should send a message that we are unified, organized, and undaunted.”

Peña has been held without bail since his January arrest on charges in state district court related to the shootings. Those charges will be dismissed in deference to the federal indictment as Peña is transferred to federal custody, authorities said. 

Jose Trujillo was arrested in January on an outstanding warrant in a car with a stash of more than 800 fentanyl pills and two firearms, leading to a break in the investigation as officers traced at least one gun to bullet casings found the same day at one of the shootings. Authorities say Demetrio Trujillo was arrested Wednesday. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to an attorney for Peña for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button