Republican told gunmen to “aim lower” in attacks on Democrats in New Mexico

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By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – A failed Republican candidate in New Mexico who contracted gunmen to attack the homes of Democratic officials told attackers to shoot earlier in the evening and aim lower to increase the chance of injury or death, according to police data.

Solomon Peña, a defeated candidate for the state House of Representatives, is accused of masterminding the attacks in Albuquerque on two county commissioners and two state legislators after he visited their houses to contest his November election loss, police said.

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Peña, described by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller as a “right-wing radical election denier,” was arrested Monday.

No one was hurt in the shootings, which followed heated arguments in which Peña showed official paperwork supporting claims of fraud in the race he lost by 47 percentage points.

In a Jan. 3 attack on the row house of state senator Linda Lopez, the legislator’s 10-year-old daughter awoke to feel dust fall on her face as bullets pierced the wall of her bedroom, according to an indictment.

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“Solomon wanted them to aim lower and fire around 8 p.m. because the occupants probably wouldn’t lie down,” the complaint said, citing an unnamed source.

The gunmen aimed high on three previous attacks and were “nervous” about the instructions because they were more likely to end in “injury or death,” the filing said.

According to the police, an attacker is working with detectives.

Peña participated in the Lopez shooting to “find a better target,” but his armalite rifle jammed and alleged gunman Jose Trujillo fired 12 rounds from a handgun, the complaint said.

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Peña has previously been convicted of 19 felonies, including burglary, and received a prison sentence of about seven years, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

He posted a photo of himself on Twitter on Nov. 15 wearing a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt, a “Trump 2024” flag, and a message that, like former President Donald Trump, he was not conceding his election.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; editing by Leslie Adler)