Solomon Pena is suspected of masterminding a string of shootings targeting New Mexico Democratic lawmakers’ homes between early December and early January.
Police believe Pena paid four men to carry out drive-by shootings at the homes of Bernalillo County Commissioners Adriann Barboa and Debbie O’Malley; of Rep. Javier Martínez, and of Rep. Linda Lopez. Police also believe Pena himself participated in the shooting at Lopez’s home.
THE BASICS: Born in April 1983, Pena is 39 years old. He’s listed as currently living in an Albuquerque apartment complex a few blocks from the ABQ BioPark Zoo. Although court records identify him as Solomon Peña, he spells his name as Pena on his website, social media and in correspondence.
PUBLIC CANDIDACY AND ELECTION CONTROVERSY: Last year, Pena was the Republican candidate for New Mexico House District 14 in the South Valley. In August, Pena’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, asked a judge to bar Pena’s name from appearing on the ballot because Pena’s felony criminal record would have prevented him from holding elected office. Second Judicial District Judge Joshua Allison, however, decided against Garcia, ruling that the state law that bars felons from holding office unless they are pardoned is unconstitutional. Pena lost that race by a significant margin, garnering 2,033 votes to Garcia’s 5,679.
CRIMINAL HISTORY: Pena served nearly seven years in prison after being convicted of several counts of commercial burglary, larceny and contributing to the delinquency of minor in 2008, according to earlier reports. He was part of a burglary crew that carried out “smash and grab” schemes using stolen vehicles to smash into stores including two Circuit City locations, as well as Hastings, K-Mart and Toys R Us, according to court records. During the ballot controversy, Pena’s attorney did not dispute records of his criminal history.
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Pena refused to talk about his criminal history with the Journal ahead of last year’s election. “I stand with Donald J. Trump,” he said in a subsequent text. “I don’t want anything to do with you.” Pena also declined to fill out a candidate questionnaire with basic information about his background and platforms, although his opponent did. Pena’s Twitter account, though, shows him refusing to accept his loss, and repeatedly claiming that the election was “rigged.”
“Once the rigging is stopped, I will be sworn in as the State Rep for district 14,” Pena’s account posted on Dec. 12, weeks after the November election. “I door knocked from June until Nov 08. It is rigged! Miguel’s own Dems were mostly against him.”
Pena’s Tweets — which at times range from profane to misogynistic — show support for former President Donald Trump. In one, replying to a Republican Party of New Mexico post congratulating former GOP state Rep. Rebecca Dow on a leadership role in the party, Pena called Dow a “prostitute.”
That prostitute stood silent while Donald J. Trump was overthrown. I dissent.
— Solomon Pena for NM (@SolomonPena2022) December 4, 2022
“That prostitute stood silent while Donald J. Trump was overthrown,” Pena’s tweet said. “I dissent.”
In another post, Pena tells another female candidate to “drop 20 pounds.”
“Fact,” another woman posted. “liberal women are more attractive than conservative women.”
“Gross,” Pena responds. “U r effing ugly”
In yet another Tweet, posted Nov. 13, Pena shows a picture of himself smiling near a group of people.
This is one of the last pictures I have of the Jan 06 trip. I lost that phone at the Trump rally in Phoenix, July 2021. Make America Great Again! pic.twitter.com/EJToLrD8md
— Solomon Pena for NM (@SolomonPena2022) November 14, 2022
“This is one of the last pictures I have of the Jan 06 trip,” the post says. “I lost that phone at the Trump rally in Phoenix, July 2021. Make America Great Again!”
In response to a celebratory post-election Tweet from U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat who won New Mexico’s Second Congressional District in November, Pena’s account posted: “Get the (expletive) outta here. It was rigged. You have no democratic claim to legitimacy. Make America Great Again!”
Get the fuk outta here. It was rigged. You have no democratic claim to legitimacy. Make America Great Again!
— Solomon Pena for NM (@SolomonPena2022) December 8, 2022
CURRENT CRIMINAL CASE: Pena is facing charges in connection with several shootings that occurred over about a month around Albuquerque.
On Dec. 4 around 4:41 p.m. eight shots were fired at County Commissioner Adriann Barboa’s home in SE Albuquerque. Barboa said bullets went through her front door as her family was preparing to celebrate Christmas. Then, Dec. 8, Rep Javier Martínez reportedly heard gunshots outside his home near the North Valley and, after the investigation was announced a month later, found damage “presumably from gunfire” to the house. On Dec. 11 in the early morning gunshots were fired at County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley’s home in the North Valley and more than 12 bullets struck the house. And on Jan. 3 just after midnight, eight shots rang out at Rep. Linda Lopez’s home in SW Albuquerque. Lopez said that three bullets went through her 10-year-old daughter’s bedroom as she slept.
Pena, who was taken into custody Monday and booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center early Tuesday morning, is charged with four counts each of shooting at a dwelling, shooting at or from a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit a shooting at a dwelling; and one count each of possession of a firearm by a felon, attempt to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal solicitation to commit a shooting at a dwelling. It’s unclear who Pena’s attorney will be.
Police believe Pena masterminded the attacks. While nobody else has been charged in connection with the case, police have identified two other men linked to the investigation: 21-year-old Jose Trujillo and 41-year-old Demetrio Trujillo. It’s not clear whether the two are related. Both are currently in jail on unrelated charges.