SAN FRANCISCO: A man who bludgeoned U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband over the head with a hammer, yelling “Where’s Nancy?”, faces charges of attempted murder and attempted murder. more crimes a day after the couple’s violent burglary in San Francisco.
Police initially refused to provide a motive for Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, 82, who his wife’s office said underwent surgery for a fractured skull and injuries to his right arm and hand , although doctors expect a full recovery.
But the assault has stoked fears of political violence less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 midterm elections that will decide control of the House of Representatives and Senate, in the most vitriolic and polarized US political climate in decades. decades.
The 82-year-old Speaker of the House, herself a Democrat who ranks second in the constitutional succession to the US presidency, was in Washington with her protection at the time of the attack.
She flew to San Francisco to be with her husband.
Police identified the man arrested at the scene by officers who responded to the attack as 42-year-old David Depape. He too was taken to a hospital in San Francisco.
The sheriff’s records online showed he was taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, battery, burglary and several other crimes. Formal charges were to be filed by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told a press conference on Friday evening that police detectives, assisted by FBI agents, had not yet determined what precipitated the home invasion, but said: “We know that this was not a random act.”
A statement of Nancy Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Pelosi’s husband was attacked “by an assailant who acted forcefully and threatened his life while demanding to see the President.”
The intruder shouted, “Where’s Nancy?” before attacking, according to a person briefed on the incident but who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
In the search for a motive, attention turned to the suspect’s apparent internet profile.
In recent posts on several websites, a netizen named “daviddepape” voiced his support for former President Donald Trump and embraced the cult-like QAnon conspiracy theory. The posts included references to “satanic pedophilia”, anti-Semitic tropes and criticism of women, transgender people and censorship by tech companies.
Older posts promoted quartz crystals and hemp bracelets. Reuters could not confirm that the posts were created by the man arrested on Friday.
The San Francisco Chronicle published a photo of a man it identified as Depape dancing at the 2013 wedding of two nudist activists in San Francisco, despite being fully clothed. Depape, then a hemp jewelry maker who lived with the couple in Berkeley, was the best man, the newspaper reported.
Scott said the intruder forced his way into the three-story red brick townhouse in Pelosis through a back door. Aerial photos showed shards of glass in the back of the house in the affluent neighborhood of Pacific Heights.
The chief said police were dispatched for a “priority health check” around 2:30 a.m. based on a somewhat cryptic 911 emergency call from the residence. Other news outlets reported that the call was made by Paul Pelosi.
Scott credited the 911 operator with using her experience and intuition to “understand there was more to this incident than was being told” by the caller, so she sent the call with a higher priority than normal. Scott called his decision “saving”.
According to Scott, police arriving at the scene saw Depape and Pelosi struggling with a hammer through the front door. As officers yelled at the two men to drop the tool, Depape snatched the hammer away and was seen hitting Pelosi at least once, the chief said.
Officers then attacked, disarmed and arrested Depape and took both men to hospital, Scott said.
The incident came a day after New York police warned extremists could target politicians, political events and polling places ahead of the midterm elections.
U.S. Capitol Police said they investigated 9,625 threats against lawmakers from both parties in 2021, nearly triple from 2017.
As a Democratic leader in Washington and a longtime representative of one of America’s most liberal cities, Nancy Pelosi is a frequent target of Republican criticism.
Her office was ransacked during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of then-Republican President Trump, some of whom searched for her during the assault.
In January 2021, his house was vandalized with graffiti saying “Cancel the rent” and “We want it all” painted on the house and a pig’s head left outside the garage, media reported.
The house of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was also vandalized around this time.
McConnell said he was “horrified and disgusted” by Friday’s violence, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said he had reached out to Nancy Pelosi.
But one of the strongest reactions came from U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack, who condemned the rise of inflammatory rhetoric vilifying political opponents. and promoting lies about voter fraud.
“When you convince people that politicians are rigging elections, drinking baby blood, etc. you will get violence. This needs to be rejected,” he wrote on Twitter.
Speaking at a campaign event in Pennsylvania, President Joe Biden told the crowd, “Enough is enough.”
“Every person of good conscience must speak out clearly and unambiguously against violence in our politics, regardless of your politics,” Biden said.

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