ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A failed Republican candidate accused of hiring people to shoot at local Democratic leaders' homes often promoted rhetoric against President Joe Biden and was belligerent to neighbors who opposed his political views, a homeowners association board member said Tuesday.
Tom Parks, a board member at the Six Hundred Alcalde West condominiums, also said some residents were concerned that Solomon Pena, who was arrested Monday, could make bail and they would live near a potentially dangerous neighbor.
Pena’s behavior came to a tipping point about a year ago, when the homeowners association forced him to remove a banner from a window because it violated housing policy.
The banner read, “F—- Biden and anybody who voted for him,” Parks said.
“We made him take it down, because it violated one of the guidelines of our building, which is you can’t put flags in the window,” Parks said.
Pena, a Republican, is accused of conspiring with and paying four men to carry out four shootings at Albuquerque-area homes belonging to two Democratic Bernalillo County commissioners and two state legislators, Albuquerque police said.
No one was hurt. A lawyer for Pena could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Police said Pena may have been motivated by anger over having lost his bid for a state House seat in November in a landslide to incumbent Democrat Miguel P. Garcia by 74% to 26%.
Pena claimed his defeat was the result of election fraud, Gilbert Gallegos, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said Monday at a news conference.
Pena, who owns a unit in the gated community just a few miles from downtown Albuquerque, was generally a good resident, but he often squabbled with neighbors whose political views did not align with his, Parks said.
Sharon Bode, who lives in the same building as Pena, recalled him “riling people up during the election period.”
He put vulgar signs up in his windows and on his car that “criticized Joe Biden," Bode said.
"People in the building were not happy,” she said.
Bode said her partner, who died a year ago, had several interactions with Pena.
“My partner got into difficult, unsolicited conversations with him as she came in and out of the building,” Bode said. “He’s not a polite, nice person.”
Parks said Pena often expressed his political thoughts.
“You didn’t necessarily want to get in the elevator with him, because you may not have a nice conversation,” Parks said. “He was a little belligerent in his tone sometimes.”
Pena's building was relatively quiet Tuesday evening, a change from Monday, when about 35 SWAT team members arrived with two snipers keeping watch from atop an adjacent building.
Deon J. Hampton reported from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mirna Alsharif from New York.