New Mexico authorities say Solomon Peña plotted to shoot Democrat’s home based on false claim election was stolen


The arrest of a defeated New Mexico legislative candidate on charges of orchestrating a plot to shoot the homes of four Democratic officials in Albuquerque sparked widespread condemnation Tuesday and blamed former President Donald Trump Supporters of the election continued to incite violence using stolen rhetoric.

After Monday’s arrest, new details emerged on Tuesday about the alleged plot, including how close the bullet spattered to a state senator’s sleeping 10-year-old daughter. Albuquerque police said in charging documents released Tuesday that Solomon Peña, 39, lost a state House seat nearly 2-1 in November but complained his defeat was rigged, orchestrated this conspiracy. Police allege he conspired with four accomplices to drive past the officers’ home and shoot them.

Pernia “provided firearms and cash payments and was personally involved in at least one shooting incident,” the documents said. They claimed he intended to cause “serious injury or death” to those in their home, the documents said. The gang allegedly stole at least two cars used in the incident, police said.

One of the targets of the attack said the shooting was part of a spate of violence stemming from Trump’s false claims that elections were stolen, including the Jan. 17 election. On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol was attacked.

“You don’t think it’s going to happen here, someone would do that to local officials,” said Debbie O’Malley, a former Bernalillo commissioner whose home was shot on Dec. 12. 11. “It’s been said for a long time that violence is okay if you don’t get your way. The message comes from above. It comes from Trump.”

The most recent incident occurred on Jan. 1, according to the charging document. On the 3rd, at least a dozen bullets were fired into the home of State Senator Albuquerque. Linda Lopez (D).

Lopez told police she initially thought the loud bangs she heard after midnight were fireworks. But in the middle of the night, her 10-year-old daughter woke up thinking a spider had crawled across her face and wondered why her bed felt like it was filled with sand.

At dawn, Lopez noticed holes in the house, which made her suspect a gunshot. She called authorities after realizing it was drywall dust from the bullet holes that woke her daughter, according to charging documents. The document also said that Peña was personally involved in Lopez’s shooting because he was unhappy that the previous shooting “was aimed at such a high wall.”

Documents show that Peña brought an automatic rifle to Lopez’s home, but it jammed during the incident and failed to fire.

Police accused Pernia of orchestrating a similar attack on the home of Rep. Albuquerque, New Mexico, in December. Javier Martinez, Bernalillo County Executive Adriann Barboa and then-Executive O’Malley. They did not say whether the shots from the homes came close to hitting anyone. Lopez, Martinez and Balboa could not be reached for comment.

Before running for office, Pena spent nearly seven years in prison on convictions related to the robbery scheme, which included burglary, theft and facilitating the delinquency of a minor.

In an interview, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said he had no doubt Pena was motivated by false allegations of election fraud following Trump’s 2020 defeat. Pena often expresses extreme views on social media and bragged about attending Trump’s Jan. 8 “Stop the Stealing” rally in Washington, Medina said. 6th of 2021.

“The people we charged believed in the conspiracy,” Medina said. “He does believe his election was unfair, and he does escalate and resort to violence as a means to seek justice.”

Medina said federal law enforcement is also investigating potential federal gun violations related to the shooting and whether Peña was involved in the Jan. 17 shooting. 6 riots. An FBI spokesman said the agency was assisting local authorities with their investigation and declined further comment.

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said, “It is shocking that some people will use this tragedy to try to score cheap political points. President Trump has nothing to do with this, otherwise any assertion is totally reprehensible.”

Lawyers for Peña and two of his alleged accomplices, Demetrio Trujillo and Jose Trujillo, could not be reached for comment.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (Democrat) said Pena visited the residences of all four targets in the days before the attack to try to convince them his election results were rigged. “It’s absolutely disturbing and terrifying that he went from that to literally contracting felons who were given permission to shoot their houses,” Keller said. “That’s what he achieved in a matter of days. leap.”

Keller said it was unclear why Pernia had not targeted his opponent, the Democratic state representative. Miguel Garcia. He said police had assembled a wealth of evidence, including bullet casings found at the crime scene and in a recovered stolen vehicle, as well as text messages from Peña to his accomplices stating instructions, including the address of the target.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, an outspoken critic of threatening rhetoric from election deniers and a frequent target of cyberattacks, called on Republicans to condemn the violence in Albuquerque and Voters are urged to reject candidates who do not.

She cited a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Gretchen Whitmer and the recent attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, and other disturbing recent incidents of political violence .

“It was horrible,” Griswold said. “In an atmosphere of political violence, there are many people who live in fear and have to be careful. As a country, we are lucky that the bullets did not land.”

Some Republicans also joined the condemnation. House Republican Leader Ryan Lane of New Mexico praised law enforcement for the speedy investigation. “New Mexico House Republicans condemn violence of any kind and thank no one was hurt,” Lane said.

The New Mexico Republican Party issued a statement late Tuesday that did not mention Peña’s candidacy or his denial of the election results, but said the charges against him were “serious and should be proven in court, he should be held accountable.”

The incident also prompted a renewed push for gun control. Governor of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) called for a ban on the use of assault weapons as she addressed the state legislature on the first day of the 2023 session. “In this room today are elected officials whose homes have been shot at in a despicable act of political violence,” she said.

Pernia allegedly conspired with four other men in a plan to steal cars for use during the attack and then abandon them, according to charging documents. Subsequent investigations into the stolen vehicle, which was found with matching cartridge casings, appeared to confirm the plan, police said.

Police said they checked the cellphone of one of the suspected co-conspirators, Demitrio Trujillo, and found that Peña had sent him the address of the target, and Trujillo was then at the The addresses were searched on his phone.

According to police reports, Peña began organizing the shootings shortly after the election. On November 12, he sent Trujillo the address of Barboa. A week and a half later, Peña sent Trujillo a passage from an unnamed book.

“This is only an additional incentive for the threat of civil war to enable the President to complete the reform program,” the text reads.

On December 8, Peña sent the addresses of Martinez and O’Malley, whose homes were attacked that night. Text messages between Peña and Trujillo contained plans to meet in parking lots, stores and fast food restaurants, according to the police report.

The charging documents also recounted the recollection of a confidential informant, who did not want to be named, who said Pena was upset that the shootings happened in the middle of the night because they were unlikely to hurt anyone.

“Solomon wanted the shots to be more aggressive,” the document said, and “would like them to aim lower and shoot around 8 p.m. because it’s more likely the occupants won’t be lying down.”

Jose Trujillo was arrested less than an hour after the Lopez shooting, miles away, when he was pulled over for driving a Pegasus, according to documents. The registration of the Nissan Maxima registered in Peña has expired. In addition to the two weapons found in the trunk, police also found 800 pills believed to be counterfeit oxycodone and cash. Police also found that Trujillo had a warrant for his arrest.

Pena paid at least $500 for his role as an accomplice, police said.

O’Malley told The Washington Post that Peña visited her home on Nov. 11. 10, a few days after he lost the election.

“He was emotional, he was aggressive, and he was frustrated that he didn’t win,” O’Malley said. Peña told O’Malley that he had knocked on a lot of doors in his district, which should have won him more votes . She refused his request to sign a document alleging election fraud, so he left.

In a week, it will be December. On Nov. 11, a loud bang — “like a fist banging on our front door,” she said — woke her and her husband. There were four more bangs. “Oh my gosh, the gun went off,” she remembers thinking.

No one was injured, but her house was shot 12 times. O’Malley said because her grandchildren often spend the night away, she now worries about what might happen if they were there. She said she also worries about what the attacks mean for democracy.

“Someone threatened my home thinking it was ok to shoot at the home where my family was because they didn’t get what they wanted,” she said. “I absolutely blame election denialism and Trump. I can’t tell you what the solution is.”

Devlin Barrett, Isaac Arnsdorf and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

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