Saturday Oct 29, 2022
An intruder attacked the husband of the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer after breaking into their California home Friday, police said, leaving him needing hospital treatment.
US media reported that the intruder shouted "Where’s Nancy?" during the attack — suggesting that his motivation was political — but San Francisco police chief Bill Scott said a motive had not yet been determined.
Police said officers found the assailant at the couple’s home just before 2:30 am (0930 GMT), where he and Paul Pelosi were scuffling over a hammer.
The speaker, who is second in line to the presidency, was in Washington at the time.
"When the officers arrived on scene they encountered an adult male and Mrs Pelosi’s husband, Paul," chief Scott told reporters, declining to take questions.
"Our officers observed Mr Pelosi and a suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it."
The chief identified the assailant as 42-year-old David Depape and said he would be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and other felonies.
Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement that the speaker’s 82-year-old husband was "receiving excellent medical care and is expected to make a full recovery."
President Joe Biden called Pelosi, also 82, to express his support over the "horrible attack" and was praying for her husband, the White House said.
"He is... very glad that a full recovery is expected. The president continues to condemn all violence, and asks that the family’s desire for privacy be respected," Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The intruder broke in through a sliding-glass door, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed law enforcement officers, leaving him with wounds to the head and body.
He has taken extreme right-wing positions on social media, including conspiracy theories about COVID-19, one of the officers told the daily newspaper.
The attack comes during a tumultuous year for Pelosi’s venture capitalist husband, who was convicted of drink driving after an accident in May and sentenced to five days in jail.
With less than two weeks to go before the crucial US midterm elections, members of both parties have sounded the alarm about the possibility of political violence.
According to the Capitol Police, threats against lawmakers have more than doubled to more than 9,000 annually since 2017.
Members of both parties rallied to support the Pelosis on social media, with several suggesting the assault was the inevitable result of an increase in violent political rhetoric plaguing public discourse.
Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the House committee investigating the January 2021 attack on the US Capitol, blamed conspiracy theories spread by Donald Trump and his far-right followers for radicalizing some supporters.
"I want to be clear: when you convince people that politicians are rigging elections, drink babies blood, etc, you will get violence. This must be rejected," he said.
Republican House whip Steve Scalise said he was "disgusted" by the attack.
"Violence has no place in this country. I’m praying for Paul Pelosi’s full recovery."