New Mexico police arrest suspect in shootings at Democratic officials' homes

Jan 9 (Reuters) - Police in New Mexico on Monday said they had arrested a man in connection with shootings at the homes and offices of six elected Democratic officials, incidents that have raised concerns of political violence.

"There is a suspect in custody, on unrelated charges, related to these incidents," Albuquerque police Chief Harold Medina told a press conference. "We do have one of the firearms involved in one of the incidents in our possession."

Medina declined to comment on the unrelated charges or a motive.

The string of attacks began in early December, with the most recent occurring last week when multiple shots were fired at the southwest Albuquerque home of state Senator Linda Lopez and the downtown law office of state Senator Moe Maestas.

"That there is a suspect in custody is very important for our city and for our elected officials and frankly for our local democracy," said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, a Democrat.

Houses reach the edge of the desert on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

No one has been injured in the shootings in Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city which has suffered record homicides for the past two years driven by gun violence

The attacks follow a rise in threats and intimidation against U.S. politicians, government officials and sometimes their families. Members of Congress from both major parties have experienced a rise in harassment since the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

"We're trying to link, and see, what cases are related and what cases are not related," Medina said of the incidents, adding that his force had numerous search warrants in the case.

Police on Monday said a sixth legislator, incoming Speaker of the New Mexico House Javier Martinez, had reported gunshots were fired at his house in early December.

“We have identified potential connections between some of the shootings," Medina said.

Democrats swept all New Mexico U.S. House seats in November midterm elections and held control of the state legislature in a highly polarized political climate.

Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Bradley Perrett and Cynthia Osterman

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