Solomon Pena, the failed GOP House candidate who’s been arrested for allegedly orchestrating shootings at the homes of Democratic officials, was denied bail by a New Mexico judge on Monday.
Pena was arrested on Jan. 16 by an Albuquerque police SWAT team, and he now faces 15 criminal charges: Four counts each of shooting at a dwelling or occupied building, shooting at a motor vehicle and conspiracy, and one count each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful criminal solicitation. The failed Republican candidate was allegedly incensed by his belief that his election loss was illegitimate, according to police.
District Court judge David Murphy ordered that Pena be held in pretrial detention because he couldn’t guarantee that his release wouldn’t endanger public safety. Pena previously spent nine years in prison for burglary.
“All the defendant needs to be dangerous is access to a phone,” New Mexico prosecutor Natalie Lyon told the judge. “With a phone he can convince other individuals to engage in very violent and dangerous acts.”
Pena ran an unsuccessful campaign to represent New Mexico’s 14th Congressional District back in November; at the time, he built his platform on conspiracy theories about Critical Race Theory, feminism and “the demonic theories of the Globalist Elites.” He lost to Democratic incumbent Miguel Garcia, taking home a paltry 26.4% of the vote. On social media, Pena challenged the results of the election before it even happened and followed up his landslide loss by immediately accusing Democratic officials of rigging the election.
“It was rigged!” he tweeted on Nov. 9 before claiming that “they” dumped 170,000 ballots over three minutes. From then on, he repeated this claim up until January, at various points calling for a hand recount and cursing at his would-be constituents.
Days after the election, Pena reportedly visited the homes of some of his future victims to complain about his election loss.
According to former Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, Pena gave her a packet of information about voter fraud and told her that he wanted her to respond. “I thought it was odd, and he seemed a little anxious to me and a little, kind of aggressive,” she told the Albuquerque Journal last week, “and that kind of put me on alert.”
Within weeks, Pena had allegedly paid four men $500 to shoot at the Democratic officials’ properties. The homes of O’Malley, Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa, State Senators Linda Lopez and Antonio “Moe” Maestas were targeted, as well as a campaign office for state Attorney General Raul Torrez.