ALBUQUERQUE, NM – An unsuccessful Republican state legislative candidate who authorities say was angry over his election loss last November and made baseless claims that the election was “rigged” against him was arrested Monday in ties to a series of shootings at the homes of Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico’s largest city.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina held a press conference Monday night hours later Specialists arrested Solomon Pena at home.

Medina described Pena as the “mastermind” of what appears to be a politically motivated criminal conspiracy that led to four shootings at or near the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators between early December and early January.

In November, Peña lost to incumbent state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, a longtime Democrat who represented House District 14 in the South Valley. Garcia won by 48 percentage points, or about 3,600 votes.

Police said Peña, who denies the election, addressed county and state lawmakers after his defeat, saying the contest was rigged against him, despite a lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud in New Mexico in 2020 or 2022. The shooting began shortly after these conversations.

The New Mexico State Board of Campaigns unanimously certified the results of the November election.

“This type of radicalism is a threat to our nation and has made its way to our doorstep here in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “But I know we’re going to push back and we’re not going to let it cross the threshold.”

Deputy Chief Kyle Hartsock said at least five people, including Penn, were involved in the shooting. According to Hartsock, Pena is accused of paying others to carry out at least two shootings before “Penna himself” allegedly “pulled the trigger” during one of the crimes.

Police said they identified Penn as their “key” suspect using cell phone records, witness interviews and shell casings collected from lawmakers’ homes. His arrest comes a week after Medina, the police chief, initially announced the identification of a suspect in the shootings.

An attorney for Pena who could comment on the charges was not listed Monday night in jail records.

No one was injured in the shooting, which came amid a surge in threats against members of Congress, school board members, election officials and other government workers across the country. In Albuquerque, law enforcement is struggling to deal with record homicides and continued gun violence.

Hartsock said more arrests and charges are expected in the case, but declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation. He said some individuals, including Pena, were detained late Monday.

A criminal case outlining the exact charges against Pena is expected to be released in the coming days.

The shooting began in early December when eight shots were fired at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adrian Barboa, police said. Days later, the home of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley was targeted.

When reports of the shooting began to appear in the news, State Rep. Javier Martinez inspected his property and found gunshot damage. Police believe the shooting happened in early December.

Then, during the first week of January, shots rang out at the home of state Sen. Linda Lopez, the lead author of a 2021 bill that would have lifted New Mexico’s ban on most abortion procedures.

Lopez said in a statement that three bullets went through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

Police were investigating two additional shootings — one near the office of former New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torres and another at the office of state Sen. Antonio Maestas. But Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the police department, said Monday that the shooting did not appear to be case-related.

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