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Failed political candidate indicted in shootings at New Mexico officials’ homes

The shootings at the homes and businesses of Democratic state and Bernalillo County officials occurred after Solomon Pena lost an election by a significant margin.
Solomon Pena indicted in shootings at New Mexico officials’ homes
Solomon Pena, center, a Republican candidate for New Mexico House District 14, is taken into custody by Police officers, on Jan. 16 in Albuquerque, N.M.Roberto E. Rosales / AP

A failed New Mexico political candidate accused in shootings at Democratic state and local lawmakers’ homes and businesses has been indicted on 14 criminal counts, the district attorney said Monday.

A grand jury indicted Solomon Pena, 39, on counts that include shooting at an occupied dwelling, conspiracy and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Albuquerque police arrested Pena on Jan. 16, more than a month after shots were fired at the home of a county commissioner on Dec. 4, officials have said.

Pena ran as a Republican for a state House seat but lost to incumbent Democrat Miguel P. Garcia by 5,679 to 2,033, or 74% to 26%.

Albuquerque police have said Pena believed the election had been “rigged.” He had taken his complaints to some of the officials whose homes were later struck by gunfire, to no avail, police said.

Pena is accused of hiring four people in the scheme to shoot at the officials’ homes or businesses. Police have said that Pena participated in at least one of the shootings but that his weapon, described as an AR handgun, jammed.

The grand jury indicted Pena on three counts of criminal solicitation to commit a shooting at a dwelling, four counts of shooting at a dwelling, two counts of conspiracy, two counts of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, attempting to commit aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of possession of a firearm by certain persons.

Pena is a felon who is prohibited from possessing firearms, officials have said.

Pena was initially arrested on charges that included being a felon in possession of a firearm and shooting at an occupied dwelling.

He was ordered held without bond at a court hearing this month.

Pena’s attorney has raised questions about the credibility of a confidential witness who shared information with investigators in the case and has said that Pena doesn’t have a violent history and that he had been turning his life around.