Solomon Peña federally charged for allegedly shooting at local lawmakers’ homes
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Federal prosecutors and law enforcement announced federal charges on Wednesday for a man they say shot at elected officials’ homes in a case that caught national attention.
A grand jury indicted Solomon Peña on 11 federal counts for coordinating and helping to carry out drive-by shootings at the homes of four Democrats holding local and statewide office. Investigators say his belief that he lost in a rigged election motivated him.
Peña now faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison, a spokesperson for federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
“Here in New Mexico, we will never let the threat of violence silence the will of the people,” said Alexander Uballez, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico.
Police say no one was hurt in the shootings, which took place from early December to early January, but they left dozens of bullet holes in their houses and caused fear among elected officials across New Mexico.
Investigators describe Peña as an election denier. As a Republican candidate, he lost a state House of Representatives race in the fall. He claimed it was rigged.
He then allegedly targeted those who certified the results and state lawmakers.
The U.S. Attorney now says the feds jumped in because the crimes involved an election. Many of the charges are for election interference.
“If you do anything to impede our electoral process or just violent crime in general, we will do everything possible to make sure you pay for those offenses,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda said.
New evidence reveals more about the case against Peña. Investigators say he coordinated with people he hired, stole cars and got guns – including an automatic weapon.
He reportedly texted the victims’ addresses to his partners. Investigators say he even favorited two of those locations on the Apple Maps app on his phone.
Texts included Peña writing “We have to act,” and “The enemy will eventually break.”
With the case now in the federal court system, the Bernalillo County District Attorney says he’ll drop the current state charges.
Peña has been in jail since Albuquerque Police arrested him in January. His attorneys have previously said the evidence is weak.
“I think that the evidence in this case is incredibly problematic, and it relies heavily on these inconsistent and unreliable statements given by this confidential informant,” defense attorney Roberta Yurcic said in a court appearance on Jan. 23.
Federal prosecutors believe at least seven other people helped Peña carry out the attacks. They’ve charged two of them – Demetrio Trujillo and his adult son Jose Trujillo.
They believe they both fired guns in at least one of the shootings.
Officers arrested the father Wednesday, federal prosecutors say. Jose Trujillo was already in jail. Along with Peña, they face the possibility of up to life in prison.
The next step is for the three of them to be arraigned.
Federal prosecutors could charge more people. Court documents allege four others were involved. Investigators say some of them fired shots in the attacks. The U.S. Attorney isn’t naming them because they’re not facing charges.
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