Defeated Republican charged with attacking New Mexico Democrats

Jan 17 (Reuters) – A failed Republican candidate in New Mexico was charged on Tuesday with ordering four gunmen to shoot at the homes of Democratic officials after visiting them to contest his 2022 election defeat.

Solomon Pena, who lost a House race in November, faces at least a dozen indictments for carrying out car shootings in Albuquerque at the residences of two county commissioners and two state legislators since December 4, according to prosecutors.

Pena, who Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has called a “far-right election denier,” was arrested Monday.

No one was hurt in the shootings, which sometimes followed heated altercations as Pena visited the homes of three county commissioners and Senator Linda Lopez to allege cheating in a home race he lost by 47 percentage points, police said.

In the latest attack on Lopez’s home on Jan. 3, the lawmaker’s 10-year-old daughter was awakened to feel dust falling on her face as bullets struck her bedroom ceiling, a criminal complaint said.

Angered that no one had been hit in previous attacks, Pena called for gunmen to carry out the shooting in which the file said he was involved earlier in the evening.

“Solomon wanted them to aim lower and fire around 8 p.m. because the inmates were less likely to lie down,” the complaint said, citing an unnamed source.

Police said a person involved in the conspiracy was working with investigators. At least two gunmen are in custody. Pena, who had previously been convicted of crimes including burglary, is remanded in custody before a hearing at 1pm on Wednesday.

It was not immediately possible to identify lawyers representing suspects in the case.

Pena tweeted a photo of himself wearing a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt and a message that read “Researching my options” on Nov. 15, as he didn’t give up on his choice.

Pena is a supporter of false theories being propagated by prominent New Mexico election denier David Clements, according to Pena’s website and messages in a Telegram group run by Clements’ wife.

“Hang her to death!” Pena wrote to the New Mexico Audit Force Telegram Group in July in response to allegations of fraud in Nevada. “You helped topple Donald J. Trump.”

Clements, an evangelist for myths about rigged voting machines, did not immediately respond to a request for information about his ties to Pena.

Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Adaptation by Leslie Adler

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