A failed Republican candidate who falsely claimed that his New Mexico State House election was stolen has been arrested for allegedly masterminding a plot to shoot the homes and offices of elected Democrats.
Solomon Peña vowed to “fight until the day I die” in a tweet complaining of a “rigged” election earlier this month, despite having lost to incumbent Democratic New Mexico state Representative Miguel Garcia by more than 45 points in November. On Monday, police arrested Peña on charges that he had orchestrated a recent string of shootings that targeted four current and former Democratic officials.
“Earlier today, the Albuquerque Police Department SWAT team took Solomon Peña into custody in reference to these shootings,” Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said during a press conference. “It is believed that he is the mastermind that was behind this, and that was organizing this.”
Peña is accused of paying and conspiring with four other men to shoot at the homes of Democrats following his election loss. Albuquerque Police said that the shootings were “politically motivated” and accused Peña of pulling the trigger himself on at least one occasion.
The shootings began in December when the homes of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa and former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley were shot at.
Earlier this month, the home of state Senator Linda Lopez and the office of state Senator Moe Maestas were targeted. Peña allegedly visited some of the officials to complain about the “rigged” election before the shootings took place.
“Mr. Peña had visited at least three commissioners I think and Senator Lopez back in November, after the election,” said Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson Gilbert Gallegos. “He had complaints about his election and felt it was rigged.”
Gallegos said that Peña’s visits to the officials, which involved him presenting them with “paperwork” and claiming election fraud, may suggest “why they were targeted.”
“[The officials] all expressed that they were puzzled and surprised,” Gallegos said. “One actually led to quite an argument, I believe. So I think that plays into some of this…it was shortly after that is when the shootings occurred.”
Peña spent nearly seven years in prison after being previously convicted of felonies that include burglary, larceny, receiving stolen property and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican.
Garcia challenged Peña’s candidacy in court over the convictions, citing a law that prohibited felons from holding office, although a judge allowed the Republican to stay on the ballot when striking down the law in September.
It was not immediately clear whether Peña had retained an attorney following his arrest. Newsweek reached out to Peña for comment via a link on his campaign website, which remained online at the time of publication.
Newsweek also reached out to the Albuquerque Police Department and Garcia for comment.