SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Federal prosecutors on Monday charged the man suspected of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi in their San Francisco home early Friday.
David DePape, 42, of Richmond, California, faces one count of assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Authorities also charged DePape with one count of attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to a criminal complaint,
Also Monday, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins filed multiple felony charges against DePape, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment and threatening the life or causing serious bodily harm to a public official.
At a press conference, Jenkins said DePape stopped Pelosi from accessing an elevator in the home which had a phone. Pelosi then asked to use the bathroom and called 911 from his cellphone. Officers arrived in two minutes, she said.
“It is incumbent on us all to watch what we say and turn down the volume of our political rhetoric," Jenkins said. "We should be able to engage in passionate political discourse, but still remain respectful of one another. Violence certainly has no place in San Francisco or in politics.”
San Francisco police found DePape inside Pelosi’s home around 2:30 a.m. Friday. Police Chief Bill Scott said officers who arrived at the Broadway Street residence in Pacific Heights saw Pelosi and the man both holding a hammer. He said DePape “pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it."
“Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid," he said.
Officers found a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves and zip ties. The federal complaint says DePape broke in to the house looking for Speaker Pelosi and found her husband in bed.
According to authorities, DePape told officers he was going to hold Speaker Pelosi hostage and talk to her, saying he views her as the “leader of the pack."
"DePape also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to actions," an FBI agent said in an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint. "DePape also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DePape."
DePape made online posts about QAnon conspiracy theories and racist beliefs and was known in Berkeley as a pro-nudity activist who had picketed naked at protests against local ordinances requiring people to be clothed in public, according to investigators. DePape's online entries included defending former President Donald Trump and claims that any journalists who denied Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election “should be dragged straight out into the street and shot.”
Scott said both the suspect and Pelosi, who suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body, were taken to the hospital for treatment. Scott did not comment on DePape's mental condition. However, according to the affidavit, DePape told police he didn't flee when Pelosi called 911 because "much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender."
The Capitol Police said in a statement that Speaker Pelosi was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the break-in. While “the motivation for the attack is still under investigation,” Capitol Police said it is assisting the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department with its investigation.
Scott referred inquiries about Pelosi's condition to a statement released by Pelosi's spokesperson Drew Hammill, which offered scant details: “Mr. Pelosi was taken to the hospital, where he is receiving excellent medical care and is expected to make a full recovery."
DePape remained locked in a secure ward at San Francisco General Hospital as of Sunday. He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court.
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