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New Mexico: Republican congressional candidate arrested for organizing shootings targeting Democratic politicians

Solomon Pena paid several people to shoot at the homes of the officials and was himself involved in at least one of the attacks. No one was injured.

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New Mexico Republican House of Representatives candidate Solomon Pena has been arrested by the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) on charges of organizing gun attacks against Democratic officials. Following the shooting at the homes of as many as four Democratic politicians, the police began to search for a political motive behind the attacks, which led them to Pena.

Pena was defeated in the November midterms by Democratic candidate Miguel P. Garcia, who managed to keep his seat. As reported by acting Albuquerque Police Commander Kyle Hartsock, the conservative politician allegedly hired four men after the election to open fire on the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators, all Democrats. The assailants fired several rounds at the walls and doors of the buildings, though no injuries were reported. The victims said on social networks that they have since lived in fear.

No injuries after shootings

In a statement, police said investigators found evidence pointing to Pena, including firearms, cell phone records, surveillance footage and witnesses. According to the investigation, the congressional hopeful paid anonymous individuals in cash and sent them text messages with addresses where he wanted them to carry out the shootings. The agents acknowledged that they do not yet know if the assassins were aware that they were attacking the homes of Democratic politicians.

Hartsock also reported that they have evidence that Pena himself participated in at least one of the shootings. "On the last shooting, we now have evidence that Pena himself went on this shooting and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the firearms that was used," he explained during the press conference.

Pena himself participated in at least one of the attacks

Following repeated attacks on Democratic politicians, police began investigating whether the attacks were connected to politics. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller discussed how the trail of bread crumbs led them to Pena: "APD essentially discovered what we had all feared, and what we all suspected, that these shootings were indeed politically motivated. This individual was actually a candidate for office against a Democratic House member just in November."

Investigators said Pena allegedly went to the homes of three county commissioners and a state senator to complain about his defeat. The GOP candidate believed the elections had been rigged, and he had a tense argument with one of the officials in question. According to Gilbert Gallegos, spokesman for the Albuquerque police, all of them rejected his ideas of changing the outcome of the election. That, along with a discussion with one of the officers, influenced the choice of target.

Pena did not concede defeat at the polls

In a Twitter post, Pena insisted that he never conceded defeat at the polls and that he was "now researching [his] options" for the future. The post followed the announcement of Donald Trump's candidacy for the 2024 presidential election and showed his support for the former president.