On Monday, the authorities in Albuquerque announced that a former Republican candidate who ran for a seat in the State House in November but was unsuccessful in his campaign had been arrested in connection with a series of recent shootings that took place at the homes of four Democratic elected officials. The shootings took place within the last week.
During a press conference, the Chief of the Albuquerque Police Department, Harold Medina, said that a former candidate named Solomon Pea was “the mastermind” behind a plan in which four other individuals were hired to fire at the residences of two county commissioners and two state lawmakers.
On November 8, Mr. Pea, who is 39 years old, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Miguel P. Garcia, an incumbent Democrat. A few days later, Mr. Pea took to Twitter to announce that he would be supporting former President Donald J. Trump’s bid for the presidency in 2024 and to state that he would not be conceding his run for the State House.
On Monday, a member of the SWAT squad was able to apprehend Mr. Pea, according to Chief Medina. The police informed him that they intended to prosecute him with “several state offenses.” It was not obvious if Mr. Pea had a lawyer representing him. An email sent to Carter B. Harrison, an attorney in Albuquerque who represented Mr. Pea the previous year, requesting his opinion on Monday evening did not get an instant response.
On January 3, Mr. Pea joined the other guys at the residence of State Senator Linda Lopez, where he “attempted to fire,” according to the police; however, the automatic weapon he was using did not operate properly. According to the authorities, a second individual fired more than a dozen shots from a revolver, some of which entered the room where Ms. Lopez’s daughter slept.
According to the police, the shells that were discovered inside Ms. Lopez’s residence matched a pistol that was taken into custody during a traffic check barely forty minutes after the incident. According to the authorities, the driver, Jose Trujillo, was wanted for a felony arrest that was unconnected to this incident. They said that Mr. Pea was the registered owner of the vehicle.
According to the Albuquerque police, the current string of shootings in the state of New Mexico started on December 4, when someone opened fire on the residence of Adriann Barboa, a Bernalillo County commissioner. Eight shots were fired. On the evening of December 8, bullets were fired inside the residence of State Representative Javier Martinez. Three days later, on December 11, a shooting took place at the residence of Debbie O’Malley, who is also a commissioner for Bernalillo County. Then, at the beginning of January, there was a shooting at Ms. Lopez’s residence.
Six gunshots aimed against Democratic politicians had been the focus of the investigation being conducted by the police. The police stated on Monday that they no longer believed that the shootings in which Mr. Pea has been implicated were related to reports of shots being fired near the former campaign office of the state’s attorney general earlier this month and at the law office of a state senator in December. These incidents were said to have occurred in December and this month, respectively.
Gilbert Gallegos Jr., a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, stated during the news conference that after Mr. Pea lost his election in November, he went to the homes of at least three Bernalillo County commissioners and Ms. Lopez, who is a state senator. Ms. Lopez was one of the recipients of Mr. Pea’s visits. Mr. Garcia was victorious, garnering more than 73 percent of the vote, and soundly defeating his opponent.
Mr. Gallegos said that the politicians were “puzzled and astonished” by the claims, and he also mentioned that one encounter resulted in “quite an altercation.” Mr. Gallegos said that the shootings took place not much longer after that.
According to a story published in July by the Albuquerque Journal, even if Mr. Pea were to win his bid for a seat in the State House, he may not be allowed to take office since his criminal history includes convictions for burglary and theft. According to a story from The Journal, Mr. Pea had spent almost seven years in jail as a result of a conviction he received in 2008 for stealing from large box shops.
Two attorneys who had defended Mr. Pea in the court case that took place in 2008 could not be located right away for comment. A query sent to a spokesman for the New Mexico Corrections Department requesting information concerning Mr. Pea’s criminal record was not immediately responded to.
On Monday, the police said that their investigation into the recent shootings will continue and provided no other details.
According to the Deputy Commander of the Homicide Unit of the Police Department, Kyle Hartsock, who made the statement on Monday, the detectives “have someone who is participating within this conspiracy who is communicating to police.” According to him, this individual contributed to the confirmation that Mr. Pea was present at the shooting on January 3.