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Republican told gunmen to “aim lower“ in attacks on New Mexico Democrats


Solomon Pena poses for a jail booking photograph after his arrest by the Albuquerque Police Department in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S. January 17, 2023. Metropolitan Detention Center/Handout via REUTERS

A failed Republican candidate in New Mexico who contracted gunmen to attack the homes of Democratic officials told assailants to shoot earlier in the evening and aim lower to increase the odds of injury or death, according to police records.

Solomon Peña, a defeated candidate for the state House of Representatives, is accused of masterminding the Albuquerque attacks on two county commissioners and two state legislators after visiting their homes to dispute his November election loss, police said.

Peña, described as a “right wing radical election denier” by Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, was arrested on Monday.

No one was hurt in the shootings, which followed heated arguments in which Peña showed the officials paperwork to back up claims of fraud in the race that he lost by 47 percentage points.

In a Jan. 3 attack on the row house of State Senator Linda Lopez, the legislator’s 10-year-old daughter was awoken and felt dust fall on her face as bullets went through the wall of her bedroom, a criminal complaint said.

“Solomon wanted them to aim lower and shoot around 8 pm because occupants would more likely not be laying down,” the complaint said, citing an unnamed source.

The gunmen aimed high in three previous attacks and were “nervous” about the instructions as they were more likely to end in “injury or death,” the filing said.

Police said one assailant is cooperating with investigators.

Peña took part in the Lopez shooting to “ensure better target acquisition,” but his armalite rifle jammed and alleged gunman Jose Trujillo fired 12 shots from a handgun, the complaint said.

Peña has previously been convicted of 19 felonies, including burglary, and imprisoned for around seven years, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

He posted a photo of himself on Twitter on Nov. 15 with a “Make America Great Again” sweatshirt, a “Trump 2024” flag, and a message that he, like former President Donald Trump, was not conceding his election.