Intruder seeking Speaker Pelosi at her home beats her husband with hammer

CNN, citing a source, reported that the assailant shouted "Where is Nancy?" before the attack.

Paul Pelosi (photo credit: QUIRINALE.IT/ATTRIBUTION/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Paul Pelosi
(photo credit: QUIRINALE.IT/ATTRIBUTION/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

A man who clubbed US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband over the head with a hammer, shouting, "Where is Nancy?," faced charges of attempted murder and other felonies a day after the violent break-in at the couple's San Francisco home.

Police initially declined to offer a motive for Friday's attack on Paul Pelosi, 82, who according to his wife's office underwent surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands, though doctors expect a full recovery.

The man arrested at the scene, David Depape, 42, will be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon and several other criminal charges, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said.

The Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, who is second in the succession line of the US presidency, was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the assault, according to the Capitol Police.

Authorities said they were still investigating a motive for the attack in the early hours of the morning.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walks away from her husband Paul Pelosi on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, January 3, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walks away from her husband Paul Pelosi on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, January 3, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)

CNN, citing a source, reported that the assailant shouted "Where is Nancy?" before the attack and told police he was "waiting for Nancy" when they arrived at the scene.

It was unclear how the intruder got into the three-story red brick townhouse in the affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood. Aerial photos showed shattered glass on a door at the rear of the house. Streets around the residence were closed off on Friday morning.

The assault occurred less than two weeks before midterm elections in which control of the House and US Senate is at stake.

Scott said police were dispatched to the house at 2:27 a.m. Pacific time (0927 GMT), where they encountered Depape and Paul Pelosi both holding a hammer before Depape pulled the hammer away and attacked Pelosi.

Police disarmed and arrested Depape and took both men to a hospital for treatment, Scott said.

He declined to answer questions and said police would provide more details later.

Paul Pelosi was being treated for bruising, severe swelling and other injuries after being severely beaten in the head and body, the Associated Press reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Biden: Attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband was "despicable"

US President Joe Biden said the attack on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband on Friday was "despicable" and everybody needs to stand up against violence in politics.

"Enough is enough is enough. Every person of good conscience needs to clearly and unambiguously stand up against the violence in our politics, regardless of what your politics are," Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also said he reached out to Pelosi, while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was "horrified and disgusted" by the attack.

The Capitol Police, responsible for protecting Congress, said it was working with the FBI and San Francisco police on the investigation.

New York City police warned on Thursday that extremists could target politicians, political events and polling sites ahead of the midterm elections.

Republicans have been campaigning on concerns about violent crime, as well as inflation and other quality-of-life issues. San Francisco's crime rate in 2021 was 1.5 times the national average, according to several crime-tracking websites.

As a Democratic leader in Washington and a longtime representative from one of America's most liberal cities, Pelosi, 82, is a frequent target of Republican criticism and is often featured in attack ads.

Her office was ransacked during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by supporters of Republican then-President Donald Trump, some of whom hunted for her during the assault.

In January 2021, her home was vandalized with graffiti saying "Cancel rent" and "We want everything" painted on the house and a pig's head left in front of the garage, according to media reports.

McConnell's home also was vandalized around that time.

In a politically polarized climate, threats against Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been on the rise. Capitol Police said they investigated 9,625 incidents in 2021, nearly a threefold increase from 2017.

Incidents of violence against US lawmakers

A gunman angered by Trump shot and wounded five Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in 2017, and Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot in the head at a public appearance in 2011.

Paul Pelosi, who owns a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital firm, was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after becoming involved in an auto accident in May. He was sentenced to five days in jail in Napa County, California.