Joe Biden has described the violent assault on US House Speaker’s husband Nancy Pelosi as ‘despicable’ – as San Francisco’s police chief said it was ‘not about of a random attack”.
Paul Pelosi, 82, is recovering from a fractured skull after being attacked by an intruder with a hammer on Friday.
The intruder – David DePape – broke into the couple’s San Francisco home around 2:30 a.m., looking for the Speaker of the United States House.
Police said officers were called to the home for a ‘wellness check’ and arrived to find the two men holding the gavel.
The suspect then pulled the hammer out of Mr Pelosi and used it to “violently assault” him, before being tackled by officers.
At one point, the suspect looked for the Democratic leader, shouting, “Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?”
Articles about QAnon
The suspect appears to have posted racist and often rambling messages online, some of which echoed QAnon’s conspiracy theories, according to initial investigations.
His posts also questioned the 2020 election results and defended former President Donald Trump.
The 42-year-old grew up in Powell River, British Columbia, before leaving about 20 years ago to follow an older girlfriend to San Francisco. A mailing address listed for DePape in the college town of Berkeley in the Bay Area led to a post office box at a UPS store.
He was arrested at Pelosi’s home early Friday.
The US President strongly condemned the attack on Mr. Pelosi and drew parallels between the attack on the House Speaker’s husband and the United States Capitol Riots.
Speaking at an event in Philadelphia on Friday night, he said he had already spoken to Ms Pelosi and she indicated her husband was in “good spirits”.
He then referred to reports that the attacker repeated the “same chant” heard during the January 6, 2021 riots.
“The chant was, ‘Where’s Nancy? ‘” Mr Biden said, calling him “despicable”.
“There is too much violence, political violence,” the president added, suggesting that election denial and claims that COVID-19 was a “hoax” had eroded the political climate.
“Every person of good conscience must speak out clearly and unambiguously against violence in our politics, whatever your politics,” he said.
“Not a random act”
Meanwhile, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told a news conference that the attack on Mr Pelosi at their San Francisco home was “intentional”.
He said, “It wasn’t a random act. It was intentional. And that’s wrong.”
Mr Scott declined to comment further on a possible motive for the assault and said the investigation was ongoing.
Mr Pelosi was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery for a fractured skull and serious injuries to his right arm and hands, a spokesman said.
He is expected to make a full recovery.
DePape has been charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and several other felony charges.
His motive has not yet been clarified.
Ms Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said her husband was attacked “by an attacker who acted forcefully and threatened his life while demanding to see the President”.
The attacker was looking for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he broke into her home and hit her husband with a hammer
Analysis – Attack on Pelosi’s husband comes amid growing threats against US politicians
Ms. Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and second in the presidency, was in Washington DC at the time, having recently returned from a summit on security in Europe.
Had she been at home, her security would have been present, but Mr Pelosi is not entitled to that protection on his own.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, “What happened to Paul Pelosi was a despicable act.
“I spoke with President Pelosi earlier this morning and conveyed my deepest concern and heartfelt wishes to her husband and their family, and wish her a speedy recovery.”
After the attack, the White House released a statement saying “the President is praying for Paul Pelosi and for President Pelosi’s entire family,” adding that he was “very pleased” that a full recovery was expected.
The attack is being investigated by San Francisco police, Capitol police and the FBI.
It comes amid growing concern over the safety of US politicians nearly two years after the Capitol uprising in January 2021, when Ms Pelosi’s office was ransacked.
Last year, Capitol police investigated about 9,600 threats made against members of Congress from both parties, nearly tripling since 2017.