US charges suspect in hammer attack at Nancy Pelosi’s home

Authorities say David DePape, charged with assault and attempted kidnapping, targeted both the US House speaker and her husband.

The United States Department of Justice has charged the suspect in a violent attack at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home last week, accusing David DePape of targeting the top Democrat.

DePape was charged with assault and attempted kidnapping on Monday, just days after he was arrested at the Pelosis’ home. Police say he attacked the US legislator’s husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer.

While authorities have not outlined the motives behind Friday’s attack, the Justice Department charged DePape with “assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties”.

The charge carries a sentence of up to 30 years in jail.

DePape is also charged with “attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties”, suggesting that he may have tried to target the House speaker herself. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if convicted on that charge.

A veteran Democrat with decades of experience in Washington, 82-year-old Pelosi has been the leader of the House of Representatives since early 2019. She has long been a subject of criticism by Republicans.

Several US media outlets reported that DePape had been looking for the House speaker when he entered the couple’s residence in San Francisco, shouting, “Where is Nancy?”

CNN said a Facebook page that it confirmed belonged to the suspect contained posts featuring false allegations of fraud in the 2020 elections and COVID-19 conspiracy theories. The page has been taken down, CNN reported.

A blog page with DePape’s name on it, which also has been removed, had numerous posts raging against “censorship” by “Tech giants”.

The attack at the Pelosis’s home raised fears of political violence ahead of the crucial midterm elections, which will decide which party controls Congress. The incident garnered condemnations from politicians in both major parties.

Last week, President Joe Biden decried “hatred” in US politics as he denounced the attack on Paul Pelosi.

“There’s too much violence, political violence. Too much hatred. Too much vitriol,” Biden said at a campaign event late on Friday. “What makes us think it’s not going to corrode the political climate? Enough is enough is enough.”

nancy pelosi
Nancy Pelosi has been the leader of the House of Representatives since 2019 [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Paul Pelosi, 82, suffered a skull fracture from the attack and underwent surgery last week. The House speaker’s office said he is expected to make a “full recovery”.

“Once DePape was restrained, officers secured a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties from the crime scene, where officers also observed a broken glass door to the back porch,” the Justice Department said on Monday.

Several state charges were filed separately in San Francisco Superior Court, the Reuters news agency reported, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, elder abuse and threatening a public official, the district attorney said during a news conference.

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