New Mexico candidate charged with shooting from car

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – A political newcomer who lost his bid for the New Mexico Statehouse has been charged with allegedly orchestrating a series of drive-by shootings at the homes of Democratic officials.

A Bernalillo County grand jury on Monday returned a 14-count indictment against Solomon Peña, prosecutors said. The charges include criminally soliciting a shooting at a home, shooting at a home, unlawful motor vehicle theft and possession of a firearm by a criminal.

The 39-year-old criminal remains in custody after a judge sentenced him to it last week kept without bond pending process.

Detectives identified Peña as their prime suspect using a combination of cellphone and vehicle records, witness interviews, and bullet casings collected from lawmakers’ homes.

authorities arrested Peña on January 9th, and accused him of paying a father and son and two other unidentified men to shoot at officers’ homes between early December and early January. The shootings followed his unsuccessful Republican bid for a district long considered a Democratic stronghold. He claimed the election had been rigged.

No one was hurt, but the case reignited debate over whether lawmakers should make it harder for people charged with violent crimes to post bail. The legislature is also considering a measure during this term that would protect the home addresses of elected officials.

Prosecutors have outlined Peña’s earlier time in prison, describing him as a “ringleader” of a group he assembled to shoot at people’s homes and saying ballistics tests revealed that a firearm found in the trunk of one hit Peña registered cars was found, at least one shooting was associated with her. Another man was found driving this car and was arrested on an independent warrant.

Peña’s defense attorney has raised questions about the credibility of a confidential witness who shared information with authorities, saying some of the testimonies used in a criminal complaint are contradictory. She also argued that her client’s criminal record did not include any violent convictions or firearms crimes and that he has not been in trouble with the law since his release from prison in 2016 — barring two traffic allegations.

Court documents show Peña was jailed for several years after being arrested in 2007 in connection with what authorities called burglary and targeting retail outlets. His voting rights were restored upon completion of the probationary period in 2021.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. New Mexico candidate charged with shooting from car

Sarah Y. Kim

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