Pelosi attacker was on 'suicide mission', officials say

Law enforcement agents say David DePape wanted to attack not only US House speaker but also other politicians

David Wayne DePape, who is charged with breaking into US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco home and clubbing her husband in the head with a hammer, at a court in San Francisco, California. Reuters
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The intruder who allegedly beat Paul Pelosi, husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with a hammer at their California home last week was on a “suicide mission”, law enforcement officials said.

David DePape, who left Mr Pelosi unconscious in a pool of blood, was intent on not only breaking the House speaker's kneecaps but also attacking other politicians and their relatives.

Mr DePape, 42, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges.

He made his first court appearance on Tuesday in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice after he allegedly broke into the Pelosi residence last week looking to kidnap the House speaker and instead found Mr Pelosi home alone.

After the October 28 attack but before he was questioned by police, Mr DePape told officers and medics at the Pelosi residence that he was “sick of” the “level of lies coming out of Washington, DC”, a court filing showed.

“I didn't really want to hurt him, but you know, this was a suicide mission,” Mr DePape said of the altercation with Mr Pelosi.

“I’m not going to stand here and do nothing even if it costs me my life.”

Charges filed against Mr DePape by the San Francisco District Attorney include assault, residential burglary, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder and threatening a public official’s family member.

The US Justice Department separately accused him of attempted kidnapping and assault. Mr DePape faces decades in prison in both cases if convicted.

Mr Pelosi, 82, suffered a fractured skull and serious injuries to his right arm and hands while struggling against an intruder early on the morning of October 28.

Mr DePape, who has long hair and appeared in an orange jumpsuit, stayed silent during a brief hearing. His lawyer, public defender Adam Lipson, entered the not-guilty plea and denied the allegations.

Outside court, Mr Lipson said Mr DePape may have been influenced by political “misinformation” and said that could factor into his client’s defence.

Superior Court Judge Diane Northway ordered Mr DePape to remain in custody without bail after confirming with a prosecutor that the alleged assault on Mr Pelosi took place in front of two armed police officers. The judge set Mr DePape’s next hearing for November 4.

Mr DePape, who authorities say has lived for the last two years in a residential garage in Richmond, California, has been linked to personal blogs that railed against the government and technology companies, and espoused far-right conspiracy theories.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: November 02, 2022, 4:00 PM