ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A failed Republican New Mexico House candidate accused of planning and taking part in shootings at the homes of four Democratic elected leaders in Albuquerque, Solomon Peña is now facing federal prosecution. An indictment unsealed Wednesday shows prosecutors with New Mexico’s U.S. Attorneys Office have taken over the case, while prosecutors have also charged two alleged accomplices.
Prosecutors have filed eleven counts against Peña, Demetrio Trujillo and his son, Jose Louise Trujillo. The three are accused of coordinating shootings at the homes of two Bernalillo County Commissioners and two Albuquerque-based state lawmakers between December 2022 and January 2023.
Peña received 26% of the vote in a failed November 2022 run for a Albuquerque-based New Mexico House seat, losing to Democratic incumbent Rep. Miguel Garcia. Acknowledging Peña’s loss in the indictment, prosecutors say the failed candidate “refused to accept his electoral defeat.”
“Peña organized a shooting spree that targeted the homes of four elected officials and their families,” federal prosecutors wrote in Peña’s indictment. “Peña carried out the shooting with the knowing and willful assistance of Demetrio Trujillo, Jose Louise Trujillo and others, who assisted Peña in securing vehicles and firearms, including one machine gun, for the purpose of firing upon the home of the elected officials.”
Full news conference: Federal officials discuss indictment of Solomon Peña & alleged accomplices
Prosecutors are also accusing Peña and his alleged accomplices of taking part in election interference. The indictment notes the Bernalillo County Commission’s role in certifying the results of the 2022 Midterm Election on November 21, 2022, which included the results of Peña’s District 14 House race, and House Speaker Javier Martinez’s House District 11 race.
“The charges leveled in the state [indictment] are substantially different from the ones here,” New Mexico’s U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez said during a news conference on the case Wednesday. “The 245 charge has to do specifically with interference with our electoral system, that is the federal interest in this.”
Text messages outlined in indictment
Authorities believe after the election results were certified, the men fired guns at the homes of Bernalillo County Commissioners Adriann Barboa and Debbie O’Malley, New Mexico House Speaker Javier Martinez and State Senator Linda Lopez, all of whom are Democratic politicians. Prosecutors allege the three men in part used text messages to discuss dissatisfaction with the election results, and to coordinate the attacks.
On November 21, the day the election was certified, a test from Peña to Jose Trujillo reads “they sold us out to the highest bidder.” It was followed by another text message about meeting up to talk in person.
The indictment also includes text from Peña to another Republican Candidate, Lisa Meyer-Hagan. She lost her election bid against House Speaker Javier Martinez.
The message from Peña to Meyer-Hagen reads, “We have to press the attack. They want us to become hopeless and give up.” Another message sent hours before one of the shootings reads, “We can’t just sit around being angry. We have to act.”
The indictment gives no indication if Meyer-Hagen ever responded to Peña’s messages. U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez also declined to say during Wednesday’s news conference if Meyer-Hagen is suspected of any involvement in the case.
In an interview with KRQE News 13 Wednesday, Speaker Martinez said he’d never met Meyer-Hagen. Reacting to the federal indictment Wednesday outlining alleged election interference, Martinez called the nature of the case “heartbreaking.”
“It’s heartbreaking that there are people amongst us who feel like they’re empowered to deny election results, and threaten elected officials and others that are participating in our democracy,” Martinez said. “It’s also not surprising given what we know of what transpired over the last several months.”
The latest federal filing marks the first time Peña’s alleged accomplices have faced charges in relation to the shooting case. Peña has been in custody on state charges since his arrest in January, while Jose Louise Trujillo has been in custody since March on state drug charges.
Trujillo’s initial arrest on January 3 ended up being a critical link for investigators, who eventually determined Peña was the primary suspect in the shootings at lawmakers homes. Roughly one hour after the fourth shooting at the home of State Senator Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy pulled over Trujillo in Albuquerque, finding nearly 900 fentanyl pills, cash and firearms in his vehicle. Trujillo was taken into custody.
Days after his arrest, one of the firearms seized from Trujillo’s vehicle on January 3 ended up matching a shell casing recovered outside Sen. Lopez’s home. While in custody, jail calls recordings captured Jose Louise Trujillo asking for someone to call his father, Demetrio Trujillo, to contact Solomon Peña.
Federal prosecutors say Demetrio Trujillo was taken into custody Wednesday. Other unnamed alleged accomplices could face charges in the case in the future, according to the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to federal court documents, the three men are each facing charges of conspiracy, interference with federally protected activities (elections), multiple counts of using a gun in a violent crime, possess with intent to distribute fentanyl, and carrying a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
Because of the federal filing, Bernalillo County District Attorney Sam Bregman said Wednesday that the state will drop its case against Peña. That is expected to happen Thursday.