A man broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco and severely beat her 82-year-old husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer early Friday while the Democratic lawmaker was in Washington.
Paul Pelosi had surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands, and his doctors expect a full recovery, the speaker’s office said. In a letter to congressional colleagues Saturday night, Nancy Pelosi said her husband’s condition “continues to improve.”
David DePape, 42, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary, police said.
“This was not a random act. This was intentional. And it’s wrong,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said.
The violence was the latest jolt to an increasingly splintered political system that is riven with extremism.
A look at what is known about the attack and the suspect:
An intruder wielding a hammer smashed his way through a rear door into the Pelosi residence in San Francisco shortly before 2:30 a.m. Friday. The man confronted Paul Pelosi and shouted, “Where is Nancy,” according to a person familiar with the situation who was granted anonymity to discuss it.
Paul Pelosi called 911 himself, and when police arrived they found him struggling with the assailant. The man managed to strike Pelosi at least once with the hammer before he was tackled by officers and arrested, police said.
Nancy Pelosi was in Washington at the time of the attack.
How’s Paul Pelosi doing?
He underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands, and his doctors expect a full recovery, the speaker’s office said Friday. Other than Nancy Pelosi’s letter to colleagues, there were no updates on his condition Saturday.
Nancy Pelosi arrived in San Francisco late Friday. The couple has been married since 1963.
In her letter, the speaker thanked colleagues for their prayers and warm wishes. “Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack on our Pop,” she wrote. “We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services, and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.”
What are investigators saying?
Scott, the San Francisco police chief, said the attack was not a random act. “This was intentional,” he said.
Police didn’t immediately confirm a motive, but three people with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that the assailant targeted Pelosi’s home.
The FBI and Capitol Police are also part of the joint investigation.
Who is the suspect?
DePape is expected to be charged this week with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and burglary. After his arrest, he was taken to a hospital, where he remained as of Friday evening.
DePape posted frequently on social media, often making racist and rambling comments that included questioning the results of the 2020 election and echoing QAnon conspiracy theories.
A two-decade resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, he was known locally as a pro-nudity activist who had picketed naked at protests against laws requiring people to be clothed in public.
He grew up in Powell River, British Columbia, before following an older girlfriend to California. He has three children with two women. Stepfather Gene DePape said the suspect had lived with him in Canada until he was 14 and had been a quiet boy.
“He was reclusive,” said Gene DePape. “He was never violent.”
Have other members of Congress been threatened?
It’s been almost two years since the riot at the U.S. Capitol, when Trump supporters broke into the building and hunted for Pelosi and other members of Congress. Since then, threats to lawmakers and their families have increased sharply.
The U.S. Capitol Police investigated almost 10,000 threats to members last year, more than twice the number from four years earlier.
Lawmakers have pressed for better security, especially for their families and their homes outside of Washington. Security officials have promised to pay for upgrades to certain security systems and an increased Capitol Police presence outside of Washington. But the vast majority of members are mostly on their own.
The attack on Paul Pelosi happened when Nancy Pelosi was out of town, which meant there was less of a security presence in their home.