Pelosi suspect charged with kidnapping; police say he wanted to hold Speaker hostage
The suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), has been charged with assault and attempted kidnapping, days after he allegedly broke into the couple’s San Francisco home and struck Paul Pelosi with a hammer, causing serious injuries.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the charges Monday afternoon, days after the suspect — David Wayne DePape, 42 — was arrested and taken into custody.
Authorities say DePape broke into the Pelosi home in the middle of the night and struck Paul Pelosi, 82, with a hammer. According to a source briefed on the investigation, DePape confronted Paul Pelosi and asked, “Where is Nancy?”
Both men were brought to a hospital following the altercation, and Paul Pelosi underwent “successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” according to the Speaker’s spokesman. He is expected to make a full recovery.
In a statement Monday evening, Pelosi, who said her family had been “deluged” with messages of concern, prayers and well-wishes, indicated that her husband “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”
An affidavit released by the DOJ on Monday shed additional light on the extent to which DePape was allegedly targeting the Speaker, who was in Washington at the time.
Authorities said the suspect told officers from the San Francisco Police Department in an interview after the incident that he wanted to hold the Speaker hostage so he could talk to her. The affidavit states that the suspect called the Speaker the “leader of the pack” of lies promoted by Democrats.
He told authorities that if Pelosi told the “truth” he would let her go, but if she “lied” he would break “her kneecaps,” according to the affidavit.
“DEPAPE also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions,” the DOJ continued.
Officers from the San Francisco Police Department arrived at the Pelosi home just after 2:30 a.m. on Friday, minutes after Paul Pelosi made a 911 call reporting that there was a man in his home who was planning to wait for the Speaker to arrive at the residence, according to an authorities. He made the call from his bathroom.
When authorities arrived at the scene they knocked on the door, which Paul Pelosi answered. Inside, Pelosi and DePape were holding onto a hammer. DePape also had his hand on Pelosi’s forearm.
Asked what was happening, DePape told the officers “that everything was good,” according to the affidavit.
But when authorities asked the men to drop the hammer, DePape allegedly “pulled the hammer from Pelosi’s hand and swung the hammer, striking Pelosi in the head,” according to the affidavit. Authorities said Pelosi appeared to be unconscious on the ground.
Officers entered the home and restrained DePape. Authorities said they found a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves and a journal in DePape’s bag. They also recovered zip ties from Pelosi’s bedroom.
The first charge, assault of an immediate family member of a U.S. official with intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, has a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. The second, attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official on account of the performance of official duties, has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
In a letter to colleagues on Saturday night, Speaker Pelosi said her family is “heartbroken” by the attack. She flew back to San Francisco on Friday to be with her husband.
“Yesterday morning, a violent man broke into our family home, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul,” Pelosi said. “Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack on our Pop. We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services, and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.”
The attack, which shook Washington, underscores the political violence that has become more and more prevalent over the years. It was the latest in a spate of incidents involving threats targeting lawmakers and political figures on both sides of the aisle.
DePape told authorities that he entered the Pelosi residence through a glass door, “a difficult task that required the use of a hammer,” according to the affidavit. Court documents said body camera footage captured “a glass door that appeared to be laminated glass, broken near the door handle.”
In addition to threatening to hold the Speaker hostage, DePape told Paul Pelosi that he wanted to tie him up so he “could go to sleep as he was tired from having had to carry a backpack to the Pelosi residence.”
“Around this time, according to DEPAPE, DEPAPE started taking out twist ties from his pocket so that he could restrain Pelosi,” the affidavit reads.
The affidavit also reveals what was going through DePape’s mind during his time in Pelosi’s house. The California man told authorities “that he did not leave after Pelosi’s call to 9-1-1- because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender,” according to the affidavit.
He repeatedly told authorities that he “did not plan to surrender and that he would go ‘through’ Pelosi,” the affidavit states, and said Paul Pelosi’s “actions resulted in Pelosi ‘taking the punishment instead.’”
The San Francisco district attorney is also expected to announce charges against DePape.
Updated at 8:45 p.m.