Pelosi suspect wanted to break speaker’s knees


FILE – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her husband, Paul Pelosi, arrive at the State Department for the State Department Kennedy Center Honors Dinner, Dec. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf, File) The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The man accused of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer told police he wanted to take the Democratic leader hostage and “break her kneecaps” to show to other members of Congress that there were “consequences for their actions,” authorities said Monday.

In a chilling federal complaint, officials say David DePape, 42, wearing zip ties and duct tape in a backpack, broke into the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday morning, rode to the floor where 82-year-old Paul Pelosi slept and demanded to speak to “Nancy”.

When a surprised Paul Pelosi told the intruder she wasn’t there, DePape said he would wait — even after learning she wouldn’t be home for a few days. The assailant then began pulling out twist ties to tie him up, the complaint states.

The federal filing contrasts with the mocking jokes and conspiracy theories about the Pelosi attack circulating by far-right figures and even some prominent Republicans just a week before the hard-fought midterm elections. Both the San Francisco District Attorney and the police chief said the attack was intentional.

“By breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be transported to Congress, which would show other members of Congress that there were consequences to the actions,” the lawsuit said.

DePape told police he intended to hold Speaker Pelosi hostage to “talk to her” and considered her “the ‘head of the package of lies being told by the Democratic Party,'” the eight-page complaint states.

“If she were to tell DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break her ‘kneecaps,'” according to the complaint.

DePape is charged federally with influencing, preventing or retaliating against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member. He also faces one count of attempted kidnapping of a US official for the performance of his official duties.

It was not immediately clear if DePape had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

DePape is a Canadian citizen who entered the United States legally in 2000 but stayed long after his visa expired, according to a US official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke under the guise of anonymity.

The family described DePape as an outsider, and he was known to some in San Francisco as a pro-nudity activist who seemed to embrace a range of conspiracy theories. DePape has lived for two years in a garage at a residence in Richmond, Calif., according to the complaint.

The announcement of the federal charges came as the San Francisco District Attorney was also expected to announce the state criminal charges.

The attack was a disturbing echo of the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising on Capitol Hill, when rioters trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election loss to Donald Trump stormed the halls eerily calling “Where’s Nancy?” Some wore zip ties.

Police were dispatched to the home in upscale Pacific Heights around 2:20 a.m. Friday after Paul Pelosi made a 911 call. DePape burst into the back glass door and went upstairs to confront Paul Pelosi, police said. They arrived to see the two men wrestling with a hammer, then DePape punched Pelosi at least once before being tackled by officers.

DePape was arrested Friday on suspicion of attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary in a horrific attack that amplified the toxic political climate ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections. He is expected to be arrested Tuesday in San Francisco.

Paul Pelosi remains hospitalized in San Francisco after undergoing surgery for a fractured skull and other injuries. President Pelosi, who was in Washington, DC, at the time of the attack, quickly returned to California. Unlike presidents, congressional leaders have security protection for themselves, but not for their families.

In the hospital ambulance, Paul Pelosi told police he had never seen DePape before, according to the complaint.

DePape told police it was difficult to break through the glass door with his hammer, and he went upstairs and told the sleeping Paul Pelosi to wake up. Pelosi looked surprised, DePape said.

After Paul Pelosi told the intruder his wife was not home, he then asked DePape how they could resolve the situation, according to the complaint. DePape explained that he was tired and wanted to tie Pelosi up while they waited. While they were talking, Paul went to the bathroom and called 911.

DePape told investigators he didn’t leave even though he knew Paul Pelosi had called 911 because “just like the American Founding Fathers with the British, he was fighting tyranny with no ability to surrender,” indicates the affidavit.

The federal complaint also said DePape said he wanted to “use Nancy to entice” another person. But the complaint does not provide any further details on this plan.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has firmly dismissed conspiracy theories about the attack, confirming the attacker was targeting the Democratic leader when he broke into the couple’s home.

“At the time the suspect entered the Pelosi home, he was actually looking for Mrs. Pelosi,” Jenkins told reporters Sunday night in San Francisco.

“We have nothing to suggest that these two men knew each other prior to this incident,” she said.

The district attorney’s remarks came as rude comments about the attack circulated on social media. The San Francisco police chief said the attack was aimed at Nancy Pelosi.

Over the weekend, Elon Musk tweeted, then deleted, conspiracy theories from a fringe website to his millions of followers as his purchase of Twitter sparked fears the social media platform was seeking more to limit misinformation and hate speech.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., was among those who shed light on the attack on Paul Pelosi, tweeting rude jokes about it.

In the heated political climate, a week before the midterm elections, tensions are running high with record security threats against lawmakers and other officials.

The incident raised new security concerns for lawmakers and other elected officials ahead of midterms.

With nearly 10,000 threats against members of Congress last year, the US Capitol Police advised lawmakers to take precautions. Chief Tom Manger, who leads the US Capitol Police, said the threat from lone attackers is growing and the most significant threat the force faces is the historically high number of threats against lawmakers, thousands more than a few years ago. .

The beating of the speaker’s husband follows other attacks and threats. This summer, a man carrying a gun, knife and ties was arrested near Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s home in Maryland after threatening to kill the judge. In 2017, Republican Rep. Steve Scalise was seriously injured when a Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire on Republicans during a congressional baseball practice.

AP writer Stefanie Dazio reported from Los Angeles. AP writers Michael Balsamo in Washington and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed.


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