SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – A man broke into United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco, and severely beat her 82-year-old husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer last 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 on 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 2.30am on 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 on Friday. Other than Nancy Pelosi’s letter to colleagues, there were no updates on his condition on Saturday.
Nancy Pelosi arrived in San Francisco late on 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 traumatised 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 targetted Pelosi’s home.
The FBI and Capitol Police are also part of the joint investigation.
WHO IS THE SUSPECT?
DePape was expected to be charged next 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, defending former president Donald Trump and echoing QAnon conspiracy theories.
A two-decade resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, 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.”