American Justice Notebook

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost." — Thomas Jefferson

N.M. House of Representatives Candidate Charged for Shooting Spree

An indictment was unsealed Wednesday in New Mexico charging a former candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives for a shooting spree targeting the homes of four elected officials.

According to court documents, Solomon Peña, 40, ran for District 14 of the New Mexico House of Representatives during the November 2022 mid-term elections.

After his November 2022 electoral defeat, Peña allegedly organized the shootings in the homes of two Bernalillo County commissioners and two New Mexico state legislators, according to officials.

The shootings, one involving a machine gun, were carried out between Dec. 4, 2022, and Jan. 3, with assistance from co-conspirators Demetrio Trujillo, 41; Jose Trujillo, 22; and others. 

Before the shootings, Peña visited the homes of at least three Bernalillo County commissioners and allegedly urged them not to certify the election results, claiming that the election had been “rigged” against him.

(News Report Earlier This Year)

Following the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners’ certification of the vote, Peña allegedly hired others to conduct the shootings and carried out at least one of the shootings himself.

At least three of the shootings occurred while children and other relatives of the victims were at home.   

“In America, the integrity of our voting system is sacrosanct,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez for the District of New Mexico. “These charges strike at the heart of our democracy. Voters, candidates, and election officials must be free to exercise their rights and do their jobs safely and free from fear, intimidation, or influence, and with confidence that law enforcement and prosecuting offices will lead the charge when someone tries to silence the will of the people. To those who try to sow division, chaos, and fear into our democratic process, these charges should send a message that we are unified, organized, and undaunted.”   

Peña, Demetrio Trujillo, and Jose Trujillo are charged with conspiracy, interference with federally protected activities, and several firearms offenses, including the use of a machine gun.

If convicted, Peña faces a mandatory minimum of 60 years in prison.

Jose Trujillo was also charged with possession with intent to distribute fentanyl and firearms offenses, including machine gun possession.

Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The FBI and the Albuquerque Police Department investigated the case.

Senior Litigation Counsel Victor R. Salgado of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeremy Peña and Patrick E. Cordova for the District of New Mexico are prosecuting the case.