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Grand Jury Charges Ex-GOP Candidate    06/01 06:12


   SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A failed political candidate has been indicted on 
federal charges including election interference in connection with a series of 
drive-by shootings at the homes of state and local lawmakers in Albuquerque, 
according to a grand jury indictment that was unsealed Wednesday.

   The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque takes aim at 
former Republican candidate Solomon Pea and two alleged accomplices with 
additional conspiracy and weapons-related charges in connection with the 
shootings in December 2022 and January of this year on the homes of four 
Democratic officials, including the current state House speaker.

   The attacks came amid a surge of threats and acts of intimidation against 
election workers and public officials across the country after former President 
Donald Trump and his allies spread false claims about the outcome of the 2020 
presidential election.

   U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez highlighted that the shootings targeted the 
homes of two county commissioners shortly after their certification of the 2022 

   "Pea targeted several of these public officials because, in their official 
capacity, they certified the election, which he lost," Uballez said at a news 
conference. "In America, voters pick their leaders and would-be leaders don't 
get to pick which voters they heed, which rules apply to them, or which laws to 

   No one was injured in the shootings. But in one case bullets passed through 
the bedroom of a state senator's 10-year-old daughter.

   The new indictment outlines smart-phone communications including text 
messages by Pea in the days following the Nov. 8, 2022, election that pinpoint 
the locations of officials' homes, allege election-rigging and confide to a 
politically ally about plans to "press the attack."

   Text messages in the indictment show the 40-year-old candidate bristling 
with outrage as Bernalillo County commissions certified the results of the 
midterm election and his own overwhelming defeat as candidate for a seat in the 
state House of Representatives. Federal authorities say Pea hired others to 
conduct the shootings and carried out at least one shooting himself.

   Hours before the first shooting on Dec. 4, 2022, Pea texted a Republican 
political ally, who also lost a bid for state representative, to say that "we 
have to act. I'm continuing my study of election rigging. The enemy will 
eventually break."

   Amid the shootings, Pea later texted one of several unnamed conspirators in 
the indictment to say, "It is our duty as Statesmen and Patriots, to stop the 
oligarchs from taking over our country."

   Elizabeth Honce, a defense attorney for Pea, said her client maintains his 
innocence. Pea has been held without bail since his January arrest on charges 
in state district court related to the shootings. Those charges will be 
dismissed in deference to the federal indictment as Pea is transferred to 
federal custody, authorities said.

   Federal charges were also filed against 22-year-old Jose Louise Trujillo and 
41-year-old Demetrio Trujillo on allegations that they assisted Pea in 
obtaining vehicles and firearms -- and that they "pulled the trigger themselves 
to fire bullets into the homes of the victims."

   Jose Trujillo was arrested in January on an outstanding warrant in a car 
with a stash of more than 800 fentanyl pills and two firearms, leading to a 
break in the investigation as officers traced at least one gun to bullet 
casings found the same day at one of the shootings. Authorities say Demetrio 
Trujillo was arrested Wednesday, while they declined to comment directly on 
whether several unnamed accomplices in the indictment would be charged.

   John Anderson, an attorney for Jose Trujillo, declined to comment on the 
indictment when contacted Wednesday.

   Police have described Pea as the instigator of a politically motivated 
conspiracy leading to shootings at the homes of two county commissioners and 
two state legislators. Charges against the three defendants include the use of 
an automatic weapon.

   The shootings began Dec. 4, when eight rounds were fired at the home of 
Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa. Days later, state Rep. Javier 
Martnez's home was targeted. On Dec. 11, more than a dozen rounds were fired 
at the home of Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O'Malley, police said. 
Martnez became the Democratic state House speaker in January.

   The final related shooting, targeting state Sen. Linda Lopez's home, 
unfolded in the midnight hour of Jan. 3. Police said more than a dozen shots 
were fired, including three that Lopez said passed through the bedroom of her 
sleeping daughter.

   Maggie Toulouse Oliver, New Mexico secretary of state, said she was "pleased 
to see the federal government pursuing this case with the seriousness it 

   Following the shootings, New Mexico state lawmakers this year enacted 
legislation that provides felony sanctions for intimidation of election 
regulators and allows some public officials and political candidates to keep 
their home address off government websites.

   Recent assaults on politicians or their households include the 
hammer-wielding attack on the husband of them-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 
October 2022 at the couple's San Francisco home. In July 2022, a man clutching 
a pointed weapon assaulted Republican candidate for New York governor Lee 
Zeldin -- a congressman at the time -- on stage at a speaking event.

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