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What we know about ex-GOP candidate arrested in connection with shootings at homes of New Mexico Democrats | CNN




An unsuccessful Republican candidate for state office in New Mexico who attributed his defeat to a “rigged” election is accused of masterminding a series of shootings targeting the homes of elected Democrats.

Solomon Peña, who lost his 2022 run for state House District 14, was arrested Monday by Albuquerque police for allegedly paying and conspiring with four men to shoot at the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners in December and January, authorities said. No one was injured but investigators said Peña intended to cause serious injury or death.

Gunshots were fired into the homes of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa on December 4; incoming state House Speaker Javier Martinez on December 8; then-Bernalillo Commissioner Debbie O’Malley on December 11; and state Sen. Linda Lopez on January 3, according to police.

CNN has reached out to Peña’s campaign website for comment. His attorney, Roberta Yurcic, said in an e-mail Wednesday that the allegations against him are “merely accusations.”

“Mr. Peña is presumed innocent of the charges against him,” Yurcic said. “Mr. Peña and I look forward to a full and fair investigation of these claims. I plan to fully defend Mr. Peña and fiercely safeguard his rights throughout this process.”

Here’s what we know about Peña:

After losing the November election and before the recent shootings, Peña approached a legislator and some county commissioners at their homes, uninvited, with paperwork he claimed showed fraud was committed in the vote, according to police.

Barboa was one of those officials. Shots were later fired at her home on December 4, police said.

“He came to my house after the election. … He was saying that the elections were fake … really speaking erratically. I didn’t feel threatened at the time, but I did feel like he was erratic,” Barboa told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.

Peña lost his race to Democratic state Rep. Miguel Garcia 26% to 74%. A week later he tweeted he “never conceded” the race and was researching his options.

In the mid-November tweet, Peña mentioned former President Donald Trump, whose falsehoods about election results, principally among Republicans and usually without proof, have exploded nationwide since he lost his reelection bid and began propagating lies about the theft of the 2020 presidential election.

The false claims of electoral fraud have stoked anger – and unapologetic threats of violence – against public officials down to the local level.

“Trump just announced for 2024,” Peña tweeted. “I stand with him.”

On December 12, Peña responded to a tweet posted by current House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat, who wrote, “Violent insurrectionists and extreme MAGA republicans are melting down over repeated election losses. So they accuse Dems of undermining democracy. Get lost.”

“I disagree,” Peña tweeted. “New Mexico elections are absolutely rigged. And we will pursue justice.”

On January 2 and again on January 9, Peña reiterated his election denial and fraud claims, tweeting that he “will fight it until the day I die” and vowing “MAGA nation 4ever!”

A former campaign staffer for Peña said the candidate would chastise Republicans he believed didn’t support Trump and recalled an instance when Peña “called out” another Republican politician for “being anti-Trump.”

Peña faces charges stemming from the four separate shootings.

On December 4, shots were fired at Barboa’s home.

Barboa said she discovered evidence of the gunshots after returning from Christmas shopping.

“It was terrifying. My house had four shots through the front door and windows, where just hours before my grandbaby and I were playing in the living room,” Barboa said in a statement.

“Processing this attack continues to be incredibly heavy, especially knowing that other women and people of color elected officials, with children and grandbabies, were targeted.”

Barboa said she is grateful for an arrest in the case, she told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.

“I’m relieved to hear that people won’t be targeted in this way by him any longer,” she said.

On December 8, a shooting was reported at the home of Martinez.

“I deeply appreciate our Albuquerque Police Department for their hard work throughout the investigation into these shootings targeting elected officials. I am grateful a suspect is in custody, and I trust our justice system will hold those responsible accountable,” Martinez said in a statement.

“We have seen far too much political violence lately and all of these events are powerful reminders that stirring up fear, heightening tensions, and stoking hatred can have devastating consequences.”

O’Malley’s home was targeted on December 11.

“I am very relieved – and so is my family. I’m very appreciative of the work the police did,” O’Malley told CNN on Monday evening.

O’Malley and her husband were asleep when more than a dozen shots were fired at her home in Albuquerque on December 11, she said.

O’Malley called the police to say the adobe fencing at her home had been damaged by gunfire. While police were investigating, O’Malley mentioned Peña had come to her home a day or two before the incident complaining about the recent election results, the affidavit said.

Ring doorbell camera video shows Peña looking for Debbie O'Malley at an address where she used to live.

Ring doorbell camera footage recorded at O’Malley’s previous residence and obtained by CNN showed Peña outside the door and knocking, holding documents in his hands.

The current resident spoke to him through the camera’s speaker feature, telling him O’Malley no longer lived at that residence and directing him to her new home.

On January 3, Lopez’s home was hit, according to police. At least eight shots were fired at the southwest Albuquerque residence. Police said Peña pulled the trigger on one of the firearms.

“Myself and my children were awakened by some loud noises. Initially, I thought they were fireworks,” Lopez told CNN affiliate KOAT. “It’s very scary. You know, as a mom, it’s something you never want to experience.”

Three shots entered her daughter’s bedroom and two were fired into Lopez’s bedroom, KOAT reported.

Lopez told police she “heard loud bangs but dismissed them as fireworks at the time,” according to the arrest warrant affidavit for Peña.

Lopez’s daughter thought a spider was crawling on her face and sand was in her bed, the state senator told police. Officers found “sheetrock dust was blown onto Linda’s daughter’s face and bed resulting from firearm projectile(s) passing inside her bedroom overhead,” according to the affidavit.

Investigators found evidence “Peña himself went on this shooting and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the firearms that was used,” Albuquerque police Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock said.

Albuquerque police released a photo of a

But an AR handgun he tried to use malfunctioned. More than a dozen rounds were fired by another shooter with a separate handgun, according to police.

Shell casings at Lopez’s home matched a handgun confiscated from a silver Nissan Maxima involved in a traffic stop about 40 minutes after the shooting and about 4 miles from the residence, police said.

The Maxima was registered to Peña, though Peña was not driving it when it was stopped, police said.

During the fall campaign, Peña’s opponent, Democratic state Rep. Miguel Garcia, sued to have Peña removed from the ballot, arguing Peña’s status as an ex-felon should have prevented him from running for public office in the state, CNN affiliate KOAT reported.

Peña served nearly seven years in prison after a 2008 conviction for stealing a large volume of goods in a “smash and grab scheme,” the KOAT report said.

“You can’t hide from your own history,” Peña told the outlet in September. “I had nothing more than a desire to improve my lot in life.”

The Second Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County in September cleared Peña to run for office partly because the state constitution allows a felon to vote.

“In other words, our State Constitution provides that if a convicted felon is qualified to vote by satisfying any statutory requirements to be able to vote, that person is also qualified to hold public office,” court documents said.

Police are now investigating how Peña may have known his alleged co-conspirators – and whether he met one of them while in prison.

Peña was arrested by Albuquerque police on Monday.

“It is believed he is the mastermind” behind the shootings, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina told reporters, referring to the suspect.

An investigation confirmed “these shootings were indeed politically motivated,” Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said Monday.

“At the end of the day, this was about a right-wing radical, an election denier who was arrested today and someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence,” said Keller, a Democrat. “We know we don’t always agree with our elected officials, but that should never, ever lead to violence.”

Police are still investigating whether those suspected of carrying out the shootings were “even aware of who these targets were or if they were just conducting shootings,” according to Hartsock.

Peña’s arrest warrant affidavit identified two of the alleged co-conspirators as Demetrio Trujillo and José Trujillo. Attempts to reach attorneys for the Trujillos were not successful.

Trujillo’s attorney, Martin Juarez, asked a federal court to have him evaluated for mental competency to stand trial, according to court documents.

Trujillo appeared in federal court on January 10 on charges of possession of a modified fully automatic weapon, possession with intent to distribute more than 40 grams but less than 400 grams of fentanyl, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, court documents show. He was picked up during a traffic stop less than an hour after the shooting at Lopez’s home.

Authorities said he was driving a car registered to Peña.

Firearm evidence, surveillance video, cell phone and electronic records and witnesses in and around the conspiracy aided the investigation and helped officials connect others to the alleged conspiracy, Hartsock said.

“After the election in November, Solomon Peña reached out and contracted someone for an amount of cash money to commit at least two of these shootings. The addresses of the shootings were communicated over phone,” Hartsock said Monday, citing the investigation. “Within hours, in one case, the shooting took place at the lawmaker’s home.”

Detectives served search warrants Monday at Peña’s apartment and the home of two men allegedly paid by Peña, according to police.

“Solomon provided firearms and cash payments and personally participated in at least one shooting,” the arrest affidavit said. “Solomon intended to (cause) serious injury or cause death to occupants inside their homes.”

Officers arrested Peña on suspicion of “helping orchestrate and participate in these four shootings, either at his request or he conducted them personally, himself,” Hartsock added.

Peña is being held on preliminary charges of felon in possession of a firearm; attempted aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; criminal solicitation; and four counts each of shooting at an occupied dwelling, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, and conspiracy, according to a warrant.

He made his first court appearance Wednesday, when prosecutors filed a motion for pretrial detention.

Police said last week they had a suspect in custody and had obtained a firearm connected to one of the shootings. A car driven at one of the shooting scenes was registered to Peña, according to police.

Charges are expected to be filed against the other men who participated in the shootings, police said.

One conspirator initially instructed shooters “to aim above the windows to avoid striking anyone inside,” the affidavit said, citing a confidential witness with knowledge of the alleged conspiracy.

But Peña eventually wanted the shooters to be “more aggressive,” according to the affidavit, citing the confidential witness.

Peña “wanted them to aim lower and shoot around 8 p.m. because occupants would more likely not be laying down,” said the affidavit, citing the confidential witness.

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A 24 años de la disputa entre Cuba y EE.UU., el ‘balserito’ Elián González’ será diputado en la isla



Las elecciones parlamentarias de este domingo en Cuba cuentan con una heterogénea lista de candidatos en la que hay ministros, altos cargos del Partido Comunista e históricos de la revolución, pero también deportistas, músicos, directores de medios y hasta el «balserito» Elián González.

Estos comicios a la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular (ANPP), el máximo órgano legislativo, son un paso clave en la renovación institucional del país, que empezó en las elecciones locales de noviembre y culminará con el nombramiento del presidente del país.

Al parlamento cubano se presentan 470 candidatos, para 470 puestos, que fueron propuestos por las llamadas agrupaciones de masas, organizaciones paraestatales en la órbita del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC), y que en su inmensa mayoría militan en esta formación, la única legal en la isla, o en sus juventudes.

Los ciudadanos pueden votar por todos los candidatos que se presentan en su distrito (siguiendo el llamado oficial), solo por algunos o por ninguno. Sectores de la disidencia propugnan la abstención.

Fidel Castro participando en el cumpleaños número siete del “balserito” Elián González.

Fidel Castro participando en el cumpleaños número siete del “balserito” Elián González.

El «balserito»​

Según datos oficiales, la candidatura cuenta con un 55 % de mujeres, un 45 % de negros y mulatos, un 95 % de graduados universitarios y un 20 % de jóvenes de entre 18 y 35 años.

Entre estos últimos destaca Elián González, conocido como el «niño balsero«, quien en 1999 se convirtió en el centro de una agria disputa entre Cuba y Estados Unidos por su custodia tras ser rescatado en aguas del Estrecho de la Florida.

El militante de 29 años del Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC), al que los medios de comunicación estatales designan como «representante de lo más digno de la juventud cubana», fue elegido como candidato a la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular (ANPP) de la isla y se ha convertido en uno de los postulantes más jóvenes al órgano legislativo.

Elizabeth Brotons, la madre del pequeño, decidió alejar a su hijo de la deplorable situación de la isla y se embarcó con él en un pequeño bote en dirección a las costas de Florida. Elizabeth y otras nueve personas murieron ahogadas, mientras que Elián, el único superviviente, logró llegar a la costa aferrado a un neumático.

La disputa entre Estados Unidos y Cuba llevó a situaciones tensas. Foto AP

La disputa entre Estados Unidos y Cuba llevó a situaciones tensas. Foto AP

En ese momento empezó una lucha entre los familiares de la madre en Miami y el padre, Juan Miguel González, que contaba con el apoyo de Fidel Castro para llevar al niño de vuelta a Cuba.

Los funcionarios de inmigración de Estados Unidos concedieron la custodia al padre del menor, pero los familiares de la madre se negaron a entregar al niño y forzaron así la intervención del Departamento de Justicia.

A mediados del año 2000, González regresó a Cuba con Elián, donde les recibieron con una manifestación masiva. Ahora el Gobierno de Miguel Díaz Canel quiere revivir la victoria sobre Estados Unidos y explotar la figura del niño balsero que con patriotismo rechaza las tentaciones del impero norteamericano.

De la nomenclatura

La nomenclatura del Gobierno y del PCC está muy presente en la lista, con la figura del presidente del país y primer secretario del PCC, Miguel Díaz-Canel, y la de su antecesor en ambos cargos, Raúl Castro (2008-2018), que a sus 91 años se vuelve a presentar como diputado.

No es el único en la lista de la llamada «generación histórica», la que protagonizó la revolución en la década de 1950. Le acompañan Ramiro Valdés, José Ramón Machado Ventura y Guillermo García Frías, de 90, 92 y 95 años, respectivamente. Éste último es el mayor de todos los candidatos.

Entre los representantes del Ejecutivo destacan el primer ministro, Manuel Marrero; los viceprimeros ministros Inés María Chapman, Jorge Luis Tapia y Ricardo Cabrisas, y los ministros de Exteriores, Justicia y Economía, Bruno Rodríguez, Óscar Manuel Silvera y Alejandro Gil.

No están todos los actuales ministros, pero tampoco es necesario ser diputado para ocupar una cartera del Ejecutivo.

En total, en la lista aparecen 138 altos cargos gubernamentales y 32 dirigentes del PCC, lo que supone más de un tercio de la ANPP.

Para el nuevo Legislativo se postula también un nutrido grupo de militares. Además de los cuatro históricos ya citados, están en la candidatura los ministros de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias y del Interior, Álvaro López y Lázaro Álvarez; los tres jefes regionales del ejército (oriente, centro y occidente); el jefe del Estado Mayor, y el responsable de la Policía Nacional Revolucionaria (PNR).

Artes, ciencias y deportes

En la lista se entremezclan también grandes nombres del deporte, como los campeones olímpicos de lucha grecorromana Mijaín López y de judo Idalys Ortíz; la atleta paralímpica Omara Durand, y la canoista Yarisleidis Cirilo, que a sus 20 años es la candidata más joven.

Son visibles asimismo representantes de la ciencia nacional, como Marta Ayala, directora del Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología (CIGB), donde se desarrolló una vacuna contra la covid-19 y la mediática meteoróloga Aylin Justiz.

Entre la docena de artistas que aspiran a un asiento en la ANPP se encuentran el cantautor Raúl Alfonso, el pintor Nelson Domínguez y la directora del Ballet de Camagüey, Regina Balaguer.

El área económica está a su vez representada por 49 dirigentes de empresas estatales, entre quienes destaca la coronel Ania Lastres Morera, presidenta ejecutiva del Grupo Gaesa, el conglomerado militar que controla sectores clave como las telecomunicaciones y el turismo. También hay dos empresarios privados.

Asimismo, sobresale la presencia periodística, con los directores de los periódicos oficiales de difusión nacional Juventud Rebelde y Trabajadores, y de los diarios provinciales de Camagüey y Holguín (oriente), así como los responsables de canales de televisión regionales de Granma y Santiago de Cuba (oriente).

Del área religiosa, están propuestos los titulares del Consejo de Iglesias, la Asociación Abakuá y la Plataforma para el Diálogo Inter-Religioso de Cuba.

Fuente: EFE y Clarín


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