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
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
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
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.