A failed New Mexico state House candidate has visited the homes of local Democratic leaders to vehemently contest his election defeat weeks before he allegedly orchestrated a series of home shootings, elected officials said.
Republican Solomon Peña is accused of conspiring and paying four men to carry out four shootings at the homes of two Bernalillo county commissioners and two state legislators in the Albuquerque area, Albuquerque police said.
Police announced his arrest on Monday night. No one was injured in the shooting.
“Peña came to my house right after the (November) election. He was kind of erratic in the points he was trying to make about the election and how many doors he knocked on and how the number of votes didn’t match,” Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa said in a telephone interview with NBC News.
Barboa said he called the police after the incident.
“He was at my door and he was aggressive. He was an election denier,” said Barboa, who was shot eight times in his home on Dec. 4, the first in a series of shots fired at local and state Democrats.
Former county commissioner Debbie O’Malley shared a similar experience with Peña, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and election denier, around the same time after he visited her former home before locating it at its current address.
“This guy came to my house. I was very worried about this and it was very upsetting. He was angry that he lost the election,” she said. “He felt the election was unfair and false.”
Although he did not threaten her during their November encounter, she did call authorities and officers patrolled her home for a few days.
But weeks later, her home was hit by 12 bullets on Dec. 11 as she and her husband slept, police said.
He “could have killed us,” O’Malley previously told NBC News.
Two handguns were found by police in a Nissan Maxima owned by Peña during a traffic stop on January 3. said in a statement. A shell found in the Maxima matches those found at the scene of another shooting, an incident outside the home of new Mayor Javier Martinez on Dec. 8, police said.
Police said Peña may have been motivated by anger over the defeat in November. Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told an early Monday evening news conference that Peña claimed his defeat was the result of voter fraud.
Peña lost his state House race to incumbent Democrat Miguel P. Garcia 5,679 to 2,033, or 74% to 26%.
Peña claimed that the election was rigged on November 16 comment on his official Twitter account.
“No. It’s rigged. Pure and simple,” Peña responded to a publication with the election results.
Efforts to reach Peña were unsuccessful on Tuesday.
He took his case to three county commissioners and a state senator — some whose homes were targeted in the shootings — without success, Gallegos said.
“He complained about his election and felt he was being rigged,” Gallegos said. “As the mayor said, he was an election denier – he doesn’t want to accept the results of his election.”
One of the meetings with local and state leaders got heated, he said.
“One really led to quite a discussion, I believe,” Gallegos said. “It was right after the shootings took place.”
Two other shootings believed to be related to the case – on Dec. 10 at the former campaign office of Raúl Torrez, who was elected New Mexico attorney general, and on Jan. 5 outside the law office of the newly appointed state senator. Moe Maestas – were not connected to the suspect, police said on Monday.
State records show that Monday’s arrest was not Peña’s first.
In three cases in 2007, Peña was convicted of 20 counts, including burglary, receiving stolen property and larceny. Several charges of bribing or intimidating a witness were dropped by the prosecutor.
Peña also received a reduction in his sentence for the time he served before the trial, which appears to have reduced him to the nine-year mark he said he served in a comment on your verified Twitter account.
Peña was also ordered to undergo alcohol/substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, 90 days in Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous and anger management, court records show.
Due to his conviction, he lost the right to vote. He was only eligible for reinstatement of those rights in 2021 – the year he completed his parole – meaning he likely never voted for President Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections.
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