House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, has been hospitalized after being "violently assaulted" by a person who reportedly broke into their home in San Francisco to look for her.
The suspect broke into the couple's home early on Friday and called out for the speaker, shouting "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?" while confronting Paul Pelosi, the AP and CNN separately reported, citing a source briefed on the attack.
The speaker, one of the most powerful Democrats in the country, was not at home at the time. She was in Washington, DC, with her security detail, US Capitol Police said.
Authorities responded to a report of a home break-in at 2:27 a.m. Officers saw Paul Pelosi and the suspect in the entryway holding onto a hammer before the suspect pulled it away and attacked him, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said at a news conference Friday.
Paul Pelosi, 82, was "severely beaten" with the hammer, suffering trauma to his head and body, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation, the AP reported.
Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for the speaker's office, said in a statement that her husband "is receiving excellent medical care and is expected to make a full recovery."
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital told BuzzFeed News that he was admitted on Friday morning. In a statement, Hammill said Paul Pelosi underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and "serious injuries" to his right arm and hands. The surgery was successful, he added.
"The Speaker and her family are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers from friends, constituents and people around the country," Hammill said. "The Pelosi family is immensely grateful to Mr. Pelosi’s entire medical team and the law enforcement officers who responded to the assault."
The suspect, identified as 42-year-old David DePape, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary, and other felonies, according to online booking records.
Police have not yet confirmed a motive for the attack. CNN reported that DePape previously shared posts on social media supporting debunked conspiracy theories, including claims that the 2020 election was stolen, that COVID vaccines are deadly, and that George Floyd was not murdered by police. Family members told CNN that he is estranged from his family.
Two blogs apparently maintained by a person named David DePape also espoused conspiracies about how "the elites/ruling class" censor information and were filled with racist, antisemitic, and other bigoted statements. A spokesperson for the SFPD would not confirm to BuzzFeed News whether police believe the suspect authored the blogs.
One of the sites, godisloving.wordpress.com, has since been taken down for violating the platform's terms of service, Automattic, which operates WordPress, told BuzzFeed News.
DePape was also mentioned in a 2013 SFGate article as a hemp jewelry maker and best man in the upcoming wedding of an activist campaigning against the city's ban on public nudity.
Capitol Police said it is assisting the FBI and San Francisco police in their investigation. Police believe DePape forced entry into the Pelosis' home through a rear door, Scott said. He referred any questions about security at the house to Capitol police, saying it was their responsibility.
Scott commended the dispatcher who received the initial 911 call from Paul Pelosi, saying she "figured out that there was something more to this incident than what she was being told." As a result of her work, the call received a higher priority dispatch and faster police response that Scott said he believed was "lifesaving."
The police chief said that while law enforcement could not yet say whether the attack was politically motivated, it is clear that the attack was intentional.
"Our elected officials are here to do the business of their cities, their counties, their states, and this nation. Their families don't sign up for this," Scott said, getting visibly emotional as he spoke. "Everybody should be disgusted about what happened this morning."
President Joe Biden spoke to the speaker on Friday about the attack, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, adding that he is praying for their family.
The Pelosis have been married for 59 years. They have five children and many grandchildren.
The couple's three-story red brick house in San Francisco has been targeted by protesters in the past. In January last year, the home was vandalized with fake blood and what appeared to be a pig's head, as well as messages on the garage door.