Losing candidate arrested in shootings at New Mexico Democrats’ homes

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Police in Albuquerque on Monday announced the arrest of a failed candidate for state Legislature in a string of shootings at locations associated with high-profile Democratic leaders.

Republican Solomon Peña is accused of conspiring with and paying four men to carry out four shootings at the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two state legislators.

Two other shootings previously believed to be linked to the case so far have not been connected to the suspect, police said at a news conference early Monday evening.

On Jan. 9 police announced the arrest of another suspect in the case and said they took possession of a firearm possibly used in one of the shootings.

But on Monday, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina described Peña as the initiator of the shootings.

“It is believed that he is the mastermind behind this,” he said at Monday’s news conference.

Peña was arrested by a SWAT team in the Albuquerque area Monday, the chief said. Ballistics evidence from one of the shootings connected the case to the suspect, Medina said.

One of those not connected to the arrest was a Jan. 5 report of shots fired outside the downtown law offices of newly appointed state Sen. Moe Maestas, police said.

It wasn’t clear if the suspect has retained counsel for the case. There was no response to an inquiry sent via his campaign site. A company associated with Peña did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Albuquerque Journal describes the suspect as unsuccessful candidate for New Mexico House District 14, which represents the Albuquerque area’s South Valley.

The publication reported during his campaign last year that Peña has a criminal record. He served nearly seven years in prison for burglary, it said.

The shootings included a Dec. 4 incident when eight rounds were fired in the direction of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s home in southeast Albuquerque, police said.

Also in early December, the home of incoming speaker of the state house, Rep. Javier Martinez, was believed to have been targeted in the same string of attacks. Police, however, did not describe the incident as among those connected to the arrest.

Other shootings originally tied to the attacks include a Dec. 10 incident at the former campaign office of Raúl Torrez, New Mexico’s newly elected attorney general; a Dec. 11 incident that included more than a dozen gunshots that hit the home of former County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley; and a Jan. 3 report of eight shots fired in the direction of the home of New Mexico Sen. Linda Lopez.


Andrew Blankstein, Linda Takahashi and Lindsey Pipia contributed.

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