New Mexico officials are revealing a break in the case that led to the arrest of Solomon Penn, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives who is accused of orchestrating the shootings of several local Democratic lawmakers.
Albuquerque police believe Pena, in relation to which 15 criminal cases have been initiated, including several felonies, conspired with four accomplices to spray the homes and offices of at least four Albuquerque-area Democrats with bullets. Police said Pena met with one of his alleged accomplices during a seven-year prison term Pena was serving for masterminding the robberies.
One of the alleged accomplices was arrested in Pena’s vehicle after officers stopped the car, police said. Inside, officers also found guns, cash and hundreds of fentanyl pills.
Pena was arrested Monday by the Albuquerque Police Department’s SWAT team. He appeared in a virtual court hearing Wednesday afternoon, where he remained silent, and the judge ruled that his bond would be denied. Pena remains in jail until his next hearing before a different judge.
“At this point, the allegations against Mr. Penn are simply allegations that have not yet been tested by the full rigor of the judicial process. Mr. Pena is presumed innocent of the charges against him,” Roberta Jurcic, Pena’s attorney, said in a statement provided to CBS News. “Mr. Pena and I look forward to a full and fair investigation into these claims. I plan to fully defend Mr. Penn and vigorously defend his rights throughout this process.”
There was another suspect taken into custody on January 9. but it is unclear whether the man is an accomplice in the case.
Although no one was injured in the shooting, politicians said they were shocked by the violence. Pena also clashed with at least two elected officials over the results of his race, which he claimed were “rigged” in favor of his opponent, Democratic incumbent Miguel P. Garcia.
Police told CBS News that in addition to investigating four shootings at the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners, they are looking into a shooting at the office of state Sen. Mo Maestas. There was a shooting in Maestas’ office under investigation since early January, but is not mentioned in the charges filed against Penny.
Maestas exclusively told CBS News that the shooting was “surreal.” According to A., no one was injured, the building was not damaged news release shared the Albuquerque Police Department at the time.
“I literally, you know, minutes after I read the article about my colleagues, there was a shooting outside my office,” Maestas said. “It was just surreal.”
New Mexico state senator Linda Lopez was another victim of the shooting. Although no one was injured in the shooting at her home, bullets tore through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom, causing debris to fall on the child.
“(I thought) What have I done to my family? Why?” – said Lopez. “I still wonder why me, why us?”
According to A police report, Pena was not satisfied that the shooting did not result in injuries or worse. He allegedly asked his associates to “shoot lower in the houses and do it earlier in the evening… when the targets will be less prone.”