Failed Republican candidate accused of shooting New Mexico Democrats

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – A ousted Republican candidate from the state of New Mexico was charged by federal authorities on Wednesday in a shooting that targeted the homes of four elected Democrats, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

Solomon Pena, 40, lost a race for the state House of Representatives last November. After his loss, Pena staged shootings at the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two New Mexico state legislators, prosecutors said.

The shootings, one of which involved a machine gun, were carried out between Dec. 4, 2022 and Jan. 3, 2023, with the help of co-conspirators, the Justice Department said. The federal indictment was released Wednesday in the District of New Mexico.

“There is no place in our democracy for politically motivated violence, especially when used to undermine election results,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr. of the department’s criminal division. of Justice.

If convicted, Pena faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 years in prison, according to the Justice Department.

Pena, described as a “radical right-wing denier” by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, was arrested in January and charged by local county prosecutors with hiring four gunmen to shoot at the homes of Democratic officials after having visited them to challenge his 2022 electoral defeat.

There were no fatalities in the shooting, which followed sometimes heated arguments as Pena drove to the homes of three county commissioners and state Sen. Linda Lopez to allege fraud in a home run he had lost by 47 percentage points, police said.

Pena is a supporter of the false theories spread by prominent New Mexico Holocaust denier David Clements, according to Pena’s website and messages from a Telegram group run by Clements’ wife.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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