The former Republican candidate who allegedly masterminded the shooting of four houses of Democrats was ordered to remain in pre-trial detention during a hearing in Second Judicial District Court on Monday. Judge Brett Loveless granted prosecutors’ motion to keep Solomon Peña, 39, in pre-trial detention for a charge of receipt, transportation or possession of a firearm or destructive device by certain persons. Peña remains incarcerated at Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque. The charge is among 15 charges against Peña in the case of four drive-by shootings at Democratic politician’s homes in December and January. Peña was charged on four counts each of shooting at a dwelling or occupied building, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and conspiracy to shoot at a dwelling or occupied building.
Albuquerque Police detectives found what they think may be illegally obtained campaign contributions while investigating Solomon Peña and the shootings he allegedly masterminded. “APD detectives learned through witness interviews related to the shooting investigation that Peña identified individuals to funnel contributions from an unknown source to his legislative campaign,” an APD news release states. “Detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine whether the money for the campaign contributions was generated from narcotics trafficking and whether campaign laws were violated.”
Campaign finances are regulated under the Campaign Reporting Act, or CRA, which is under the State Ethics Commission’s purview. “Presently, our office is reviewing the matter for CRA violations,” State Ethics Commission spokeswoman Suha Musa said via email. “If the Commission takes action in this matter, it will do so at a public meeting.”
The Campaign Reporting Act dictates how campaign funding can be used.
Speaker of the House Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, opened up about the recent shootings of houses owned by Democratic politicians in Albuquerque, including his own. Martinez held a press briefing prior to the opening of the legislative session on Tuesday. “It’s long overdue, that we lower the temperature,” Martinez said. “These are the things that can happen when rhetoric gets out of hand. I am incredibly grateful to the Albuquerque Police Department, to (Albuquerque) Mayor (Tim) Keller and to all of those who played a role in protecting our safety and ensuring that our democracy remains intact.”
Martinez expressed alarm that the shootings occurred.
Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina announced Monday evening, on the eve of the 2022 legislative session, that police arrested a former Republican candidate for office in relation to the shootings at the homes of Albuquerque Democrats. Albuquerque police say Solomon Peña, 39, conspired with and paid four other men to shoot at the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two legislators.
Peña ran for state House District 14 as a Republican in 2022, losing to incumbent Democrat Miguel Garcia. “This type of radicalism is a threat to our nation and has made its way to our doorstep here in Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said at the press conference. Peña was arrested following a SWAT situation near downtown Albuquerque when he was served at his residence. “Earlier today, the Albuquerque Police Department SWAT team took Solomon Peña [into] custody in reference to the shootings and he is the mastermind that was behind this and organizing this,” Medina said at the news conference.
The upcoming legislative session begins on Jan. 17, less than two weeks after news reports revealed a series of shootings involving Democratic leaders residing in Albuquerque. With the session beginning in less than a week, the New Mexico Political Report reached out to New Mexico State Police about security at the Roundhouse for the session. “New Mexico State Police has an operational plan in place for the 2023 legislative session, as we do for every session,” State Police spokesman Ray Wilson said via email. “We have assigned appropriate resources to ensure the safety of the public, senators, and representatives.”
The public are encouraged to voice their comments, questions and concerns in a peaceful manner; however, NMSP is prepared for any chaos that may erupt.
Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina announced Monday afternoon that a suspect is in custody regarding the recent shootings of Democrats’ homes and offices.
“We do have a firearm in our possession that is linked to one of the shootings,” Medina said. “We are not going to get into details as this is still an active investigation.”
Medina declined to release the name of the person of interest, citing the investigation. The only information APD released about the person is that he is a male who is currently in custody on an unrelated charge. Law enforcement also have a firearm that may be connected to the shootings. “We never want this to happen,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.
State Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, reported shots were fired at his home in December. Martinez is the likely incoming state House Speaker. Following last week’s reports of five high-ranking Albuquerque Democratic politicians’ homes or offices being shot at, Martinez looked over his home, an Albuquerque Police Department news release states. “He discovered damage presumably from gunfire heard in early December outside his Albuquerque home. APD detectives went to the home and located evidence of a shooting,” the news release states.
In early December, two Bernalillo County Commissioners and a state senator’s homes were shot at. No injuries were reported. Another incident was reported Thursday at the off of a state senator. Albuquerque Police Department held a press conference Jan. 5 where Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina spoke about the incidents and provided some information about the ongoing investigation.
On the heels of a spike in domestic violence over the Thanksgiving holiday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller introduced a new Albuquerque Domestic Abuse Response Team, or DART, program. Keller held a press conference earlier this month to introduce the program. He said that over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Albuquerque Police Department, “saw the highest call volume in recent memory for domestic violence.”
“We know this is terrible and tragic in many ways,” he said. Keller invited several members of the community and his staff to talk about domestic violence and the importance of seeking help if one is a victim of domestic violence or intimate partner violence during the press conference. Albuquerque Chief of Police Harold Medina talked about responding to domestic violence as an officer. He said that, as a younger officer working the graveyard shift, he often handled domestic violence calls and while driving victims to an undisclosed shelter, they frequently worried about “how to survive.”
Medina said the Albuquerque Police Department is creating a new unit with officers specially trained in domestic violence so that when a domestic violence call comes into the APD, “we’ll make sure we’re dispatching the right individual out there to get them [the victim] in contact with all the resources out there.”
Bev McMillan, Family Advocacy Center coordinator, said during the press conference that the day of the Super Bowl is typically the day with the highest amount of domestic violence calls for police.
The Albuquerque City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to create the city’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission Monday evening. The creation of the commission is the first of 39 recommendations the city’s Domestic Violence Task Force made earlier this fall. Other recommendations include building a clearinghouse website with information, providing training to businesses as well as financial support and structure for domestic violence training in Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico. The task force also recommended the city support the Albuquerque Police Department and other agencies in collecting and tracking data and that the city provide financial support and structure within the Community Safety Department to train responders on cultural competence, language access, LGBTQ populations and education on domestic violence, intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Another recommendation is for the city to hire a full-time domestic violence coordinator, a position that is already filled. The task force met for two years and brought together various stakeholders including representatives from community groups who work with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.