In a shocking turn of events, a failed Republican candidate, Solomon Peña, has been indicted on federal charges related to a series of drive-by shootings targeting the homes of state and local lawmakers in Albuquerque.
The grand jury indictment, unsealed on Wednesday, sheds light on Peña’s alleged involvement in the shootings that occurred in December 2022 and January of this year.
Alongside Peña, two alleged accomplices face additional conspiracy and weapons-related charges. These attacks took place amidst a wave of threats and intimidation against public officials and election workers, fueled by baseless claims from former President Donald Trump and his supporters regarding the 2020 presidential election results.
Targeting Election-Certifying Officials:
The indictment emphasizes that Peña deliberately targeted public officials who had certified the election, which he had lost.
U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez, during a news conference, condemned Peña’s actions and emphasized that in America, voters choose their leaders, and those who aspire to lead cannot selectively adhere to the rules or laws they deem fit.
Although no one was injured in the shootings, the bullets even penetrated the bedroom of a 10-year-old daughter of a state senator, underscoring the dangerous nature of Peña’s actions.
Evidence of Election-Rigging Claims and Plans:
The newly unsealed indictment provides a glimpse into Peña’s state of mind before and after the 2022 election.
It includes smartphone communications, text messages by Peña himself, which highlight the locations of officials’ homes, allege election-rigging, and discuss plans to “press the attack” with a political ally. The messages reveal Peña’s outrage over the certification of the election results and his overwhelming defeat as a candidate for the state House of Representatives.
Federal authorities contend that Peña hired others to carry out the shootings and personally participated in at least one incident.
Calls for Action and Patriotism:
Peña’s text messages show his growing frustration and express the need to take action.
He reached out to a Republican political ally, also unsuccessful in a bid for state representative, stating, “we have to act. I’m continuing my study of election rigging. The enemy will eventually break.”
During the shootings, Peña messaged one of several unnamed conspirators, asserting that it was their duty as “Statesmen and Patriots” to prevent oligarchs from taking over the country.
Defense Claims Innocence:
Elizabeth Honce, Peña’s defense attorney, maintains that her client is innocent. Peña has been held without bail since his arrest in January on state charges related to the shootings.
These state charges will be dismissed as Peña is transferred to federal custody to face the new indictment.
Accomplices and Federal Charges:
Jose Louise Trujillo, 22, and Demetrio Trujillo, 41, also face federal charges for their alleged roles in assisting Peña in obtaining vehicles and firearms.
Authorities claim that they even fired shots into the homes of the victims themselves. Jose Trujillo was previously arrested in January with a significant stash of fentanyl pills and firearms, leading to a breakthrough in the investigation.
Demetrio Trujillo was arrested on Wednesday, and it remains unclear if additional unnamed accomplices mentioned in the indictment will be charged.