Man arrested in attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband faces charges

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 29 (Reuters) – A man who hit the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the head with a hammer, shouted “Where’s Nancy?” after forcing his way to the couple’s house in San Francisco, facing charges of attempted murder and other felonies a day later.

Police initially declined to offer a motive for Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, 82, who his wife’s office said had undergone surgery for a fractured skull and injuries to his right arm and hand, though doctors expected him to make a full recovery.

But the incident stoked fears of political violence less than two weeks before the midterm elections on Nov. 8.

The 82-year-old House Speaker himself, a Democrat second in the constitutional line of succession to the US presidency, was in Washington at the time of the attack.

She flew to San Francisco to be with her husband. Three dark-colored SUVs assigned to a special security detail were parked Saturday alongside a city police patrol car outside San Francisco’s Zuckerberg General Hospital, where Paul Pelosi was admitted.

Paul Pelosi Jr., the couple’s son, is also in the hospital. Asked by reporters for an update on his father, he replied: “So far, so good.”

President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, said he understood Pelosi’s husband “probably did better,” and that the attack appeared to be “intended for Nancy.”

Police identified the man arrested at the scene as David DePape, 42. He was also taken to a San Francisco hospital, but it was unclear whether he was there for medical or psychiatric treatment or both.

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Online sheriff’s records show he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, battery, theft, threatening a public official or family member, and other crimes. Formal charges will be filed on Monday, and an arraignment is expected on Tuesday, according to the San Francisco district attorney’s office.

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said at a news briefing Friday night that police detectives, assisted by FBI agents, have not been able to determine what prompted the home invasion but said, “We know this was not a random act.”

A statement from Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said Pelosi’s husband was attacked “by an assailant who used force, and threatened his life while demanding to see the Speaker.”

The screamer yelled, “Where’s Nancy?” before the attack, according to a person briefed on the incident who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

FROM HEMP TO HEART?

In the search for a motive, attention turned to the suspect’s apparent internet profile.

In recent posts on various websites, an internet user named “daviddepape” expressed support for former President Donald Trump and espoused conspiracy theories similar to the QAnon cult. The article included references to “demonic pedophilia,” anti-Semitic tropes and criticism of women, transgender people and censorship by tech companies.

old message introduced quartz crystal and hemp bracelet. Reuters could not confirm the post made by the suspect arrested Friday.

Experts on extremism say the attack could be an example of a trend they call “stochastic terrorism,” in which sometimes unstable individuals are inspired to violence by hate speech and scenarios they see online and hear from public figures.

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“This is clearly a targeted attack. The goal is to find and potentially harm the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” said John Cohen, former counterterrorism coordinator and head of intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security who works with US law enforcement agencies on. the problem.

The San Francisco Chronicle posted a photo of a man identified as DePape dancing at the 2013 wedding of two nudist activists in San Francisco, even though he was clothed. DePape, then a hemp jewelry maker who registered as a member of the left-leaning Green Party, lived with the couple in Berkeley and was best man at their wedding, the newspaper reported. He said he grew up in Canada.

Scott said the intruder forced his way into the Pelosis’ three-story red brick townhouse through the rear door. An aerial photo shows broken glass behind a home in the city’s affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Welfare check

The chief said police were dispatched for a “priority A welfare check” around 2:30 a.m. based on a somewhat mysterious emergency-911 call from the residence. Another news outlet reported that the call was placed by Paul Pelosi.

Scott admitted to the 911 operator knowing that “there was more to this incident than he was being told” by the caller, thus dispatching the call at a higher priority than normal. Scott called her decision “a life saver.”

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According to Scott, police arrived at the front door to see DePape and Pelosi struggling over the hammer. As officers yelled at the two men to drop the device, DePape pulled out a hammer and appeared to strike Pelosi at least once, the chief said. Officers then arrested, disarmed and arrested DePape, Scott said.

The incident comes a day after New York City police warned that extremists could target politicians, political events and polling sites ahead of the election.

The US Capitol Police, which reported 9,625 threats against lawmakers of both parties in 2021, almost tripled from 2017, urged the congressional office in a special memo on Saturday to take additional security precautions due to the increased risk.

As the Democratic leader in Washington and the longtime representative of one of America’s most liberal cities, Nancy Pelosi is often the target of Republican criticism.

His office was robbed during the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by supporters of then-Republican President Trump, some of whom chased him during the attack.

Reporting by Nathan Frandino in San Francisco and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal, Susan Heavey, Patricia Zengerle, Andy Sullivan, Brendan O’Brien, Jonathan Allen, Doina Chiacu, Rich McKay, Rami Ayyub, Tim Ahmann, Dan Whitcomb, Ismail Shakil, Tyler Clifford, and Gram Slattery; Written by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Alistair Bell and Daniel Wallis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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