The suspect accused of attacking Paul Pelosi told authorities he wanted to break Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps to show members of Congress that there are “consequences to actions,” according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Monday.
The new revelation came Monday as the Department of Justice filed federal charges of assault and attempted kidnapping against the man suspected of attacking Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, last week.
David DePape, 42, is accused of attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer in the couple’s San Francisco home just before 2:30 a.m. Friday, according to San Francisco police.
The state later announced charges against DePape including attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder, and threats to a public official and their family.
“What is clear based on the evidence thus far is that this house and the speaker herself were specifically targets of the defendant,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said during a press conference Monday.
Jenkins will ask for DePape to be held without bail on Tuesday. He is expected to appear physically in court for his arraignment.
Nancy Pelosi issued a new statement Monday night, giving an update on her husband’s condition and saying, “Since the horrific attack on Paul early Friday, we have been deluged with thousands of messages conveying concern, prayers and warm wishes. We are most grateful.”
“Thanks to the excellent trauma care medical team at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Paul is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process,” she said. “Our family thanks everyone for their kindness.”
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DePape was charged with 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, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He is also charged 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.
Federal charges were always a possibility due to early evidence suggesting the suspect appeared to be motivated to allegedly break into the home, at least in part, to reach the speaker, sources told ABC News.
The attack was intentional, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said Friday, describing a chaotic scene at the home once police arrived.
Paul Pelosi woke up to the suspect confronting him about the whereabouts of the House speaker, Jenkins said Monday during the press conference. Paul Pelosi, who had been sleeping, was wearing a loose-fitting pajama shirt and boxer shorts, and was forced to get out of bed, Jenkins said. At some point, Paul Pelosi attempted to access the home’s elevator, which contains a phone, but the suspect blocked his access, she said.
At some point, Paul Pelosi asked to go to the bathroom, where he was able to call 911, the district attorney said. The defendant realized Paul Pelosi had called 911 and took him downstairs near the front door, Jenkins said.
Paul Pelosi and DePape each had one hand on a hammer when officers from the San Francisco Police Department arrived before DePape was allegedly able to wrestle the hammer away and begin “violently” attacking Paul Pelosi with it, Scott said.
Officers then tackled DePape and disarmed him, Scott said.
DePape allegedly later told officers “that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her” and that he wanted to use the House speaker to lure another unnamed individual, the affidavit states.
The suspect also allegedly told investigators that he intended to break Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps if she didn’t tell him the “truth” about “lies told by the Democratic Party” and said she would have to be wheeled into Congress, therefore showing other members of Congress that there are “consequences to actions,” according to the criminal complaint.
Paul Pelosi was struck at least twice with the hammer, sources told ABC News. He underwent successful surgery on Friday to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands, the speaker’s spokesperson, Drew Hammill, said in a statement. Although his injuries are significant, he is expected to make a full recovery, Hammill said.
DePape allegedly shouted “Where’s Nancy?” repeatedly after entering the home through a sliding glass door and moving about the house, law enforcement officers familiar with the investigation told ABC News. The speaker was in Washington, D.C., at the time, according to Capitol Police.
The suspect was carrying a bag that contained duct tape and zip ties, two law enforcement officials briefed on the probe told ABC News on Sunday.
DePape was hospitalized with injuries following the attack. While police are still investigating the motive, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank dedicated to researching extremism and disinformation, said DePape “likely was motivated by a wide range of conspiratorial beliefs.”
“In the last two months, DePape has posted dozens of articles and videos to his blogs spreading conspiracies and hateful rhetoric related to COVID-19, women, Hillary Clinton, the Jewish community, federal law enforcement (e.g., FBI), government censorship, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the climate crisis, QAnon, the 2020 election, the transgender community, and ‘grooming’ in schools,” the ISD said in a statement, though no posts were found specifically mentioning Nancy Pelosi.
Among the number of social media posts being examined by investigators include some in which DePape allegedly espouses conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines, 2020 false election theories, frustration with the Jan. 6 congressional hearings and anger over the conviction of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
Chief Scott said the department is working with Capitol Police, and that the SFPD is providing security. “We will do whatever is necessary … but right now, we want to make sure that people are safe, that they feel safe.”
The incident has “shaken a lot of people, and we want to make sure we do what we can,” he said.
“It’s sad to see that we are once again at a point in history where people believe that it’s OK to express their political sentiment through violence,” the chief added.
DePape is expected to be arraigned Tuesday. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.