GOP leaders in New Mexico try to distance themselves from suspect in shootings


ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Republican lawmakers rushed Wednesday to distance themselves from the shooting of suspected and failed GOP candidate Solomon Pena.

Pena, who lost his race for New Mexico’s state house, was arrested Monday in connection with a series of shootings at the homes of state and local Democratic leaders, police said.

Pena is charged with conspiring with and paying four men to carry out shootings at the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two state legislators, the Albuquerque Police Department said.

No one was injured.

Pena made his first court appearance on Wednesday and was ordered to be held without bail by Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Judge Jill Martinez. Assistant District Attorney Keith Rinaldi announced that the state will request that Pena be detained before and during any trial.

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“This was a heinous and reprehensible act regardless of political affiliation. This individual was a gun-wielding felon who conspired to terrorize and harm families in New Mexico,” said Senate Republican Leader Greg Baca , in a statement. He and his associates – conspirators deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Pena, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump who openly denied the results of the November election, claimed his own defeat was the result of electoral fraud.

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He lost in a landslide to incumbent Democrat Miguel P. Garcia by 5,679 to 2,033, or 74% to 26%. There is no evidence to support his fraud claims, despite his adamance on Twitter and in other statements.

On Wednesday, New Mexico’s Republican leaders insisted they oppose “violence in any form.”

“This is yet another example of a convicted felon who has illegally gained access to firearms they are not authorized to own or possess, and is using the weapon in a manner that causes harm to the public,” said Ryan Lane, leader of the Republican House, in a statement Wednesday.

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“New Mexico House Republicans condemn violence in any form and are thankful no one was hurt.”

Pena served nine years in prison for stealing electronics and other goods from stores and lost his right to vote for years. He was released in 2016 and eligible to have his voting rights reinstated in 2021.

Deon J. Hampton reported from Albuquerque and David K. Li from New York City.

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