Assault of Paul Pelosi was ‘not a random act,’ police chief says

Politics

(NewsNation) — Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was “violently assaulted” by an assailant with a hammer in an early morning attack Friday at their San Francisco home, according to authorities.

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said the attack was intentional, but could not disclose the motive as he provided more updates Friday night.

“Everybody should be disgusted about what happened this morning,” Scott said as he choked back tears Friday night.

Scott said he was not ready to say how many times Pelosi was hit, only that it was “at least one time.”

In an earlier news conference, Scott said police were dispatched to the Pelosi residence at approximately 2:27 a.m. regarding a well-being check.

“When the officers arrived on scene, they encountered an adult male and Mrs. Pelosi’s husband, Paul,” Scott said. “Our officers observed Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it.”

Later, Scott clarified the officers told both men to drop the hammer before the suspect, David DePape, grabbed it from Pelosi.

Scott said officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid.

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for the Speaker, said in a statement the assailant broke into their San Francisco residence. Friday night, Scott confirmed police believe DePape broke into a rear door.

According to an Associated Press source briefed on the situation, the intruder specifically targeted the home and confronted Paul Pelosi shouting, “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”

Nancy Pelosi was not home at the time of the attack.

“Mr. DePape will be booked at the San Francisco County jail on the following charges. Attempted homicide assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and several other additional felonies,” Scott said.

Paul Pelosi, 82, was hospitalized following the attack, suffering a skull fracture and blunt force injuries, according to a statement from Hammill.

“Mr. Pelosi was admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital where he underwent successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” the statement reads. “His doctors expect a full recovery.”

He was also being treated by doctors for bruising, severe swelling and other injuries.

“The Speaker and her family are grateful to the first responders and medical professionals involved, and request privacy at this time,” Hammill said.

The attack raised questions about security at the Pelosi home, but Scott said the U.S. Capitol Police are in charge of her safety and his department had no control over their deployment.

The San Francisco police Dept., the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Capitol Police and the San Francisco District Attorney are collaborating on the investigation.

“I do want to commend the San Francisco Police Department for their immediate response to this home and for swiftly making sure that Mr. Pelosi was okay. And that the suspect was apprehended,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said.

While the circumstances of the attack are unclear, the incident raises additional questions about the safety of members of Congress and their families as threats to lawmakers are at an all-time high almost two years after the violent Capitol insurrection.

Members of Congress have received additional money for security at their homes, but some have pushed for more protection as people have shown up at their homes and as members have received an increasing amount of threatening communications.

“This heinous assault is yet another example of the dangerous consequences of the divisive and hateful rhetoric that is putting lives at risk and undermining our very democracy and Democratic institutions,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement following the attack. “Those who are using their platforms to incite violence must be held to account.”

Rep. Lee Zelden (R-N.Y.) was attacked by a man at a campaign event in New York during his gubernatorial race.

Over the summer, a man armed with a pistol was arrested near Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) Seattle home after yelling threats at the congresswoman, who was home with her husband at the time.

In 2021, Capitol Police investigated around 9,600 threats made against members of Congress, and members have been violently attacked in recent years. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head at an event outside a Tucson grocery store in 2011, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was severely injured when a gunman opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball team practice in 2017.

Capitol Police, tasked with protecting congressional leaders, said Nancy Pelosi was with her protective detail in Washington at the time her husband was attacked. She’d just returned this week from a security conference in Europe and is due to keynote an advocacy event Saturday evening with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Often at Pelosi’s side during formal events in Washington, Paul Pelosi is a wealthy investor who largely remains on the West Coast. They have five adult children and many grandchildren.

Paul Pelosi was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence related to a May crash in California’s wine country and was sentenced to five days in jail and three years of probation.

In the Friday evening news conference, Scott said politicians should be able to work without fearing for their lives.

“Their families don’t sign up for this,” he said.

  • Paul Pelosi

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Hill, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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