Monday, December 5, 2022

Man arrested in attack on US House Speaker Pelosi’s spouse faces charges

A man who clubbed U.S. 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.
But the assault stoked fears about political violence less than two weeks ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8 that will decide control of the House of Representatives and Senate, coming amid the most vitriolic and polarized U.S. political climate in decades.
The 82-year-old House speaker herself, a Democrat who is second in the constitutional line of succession to the U.S. presidency, was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the assault.
She flew to San Francisco to be with her husband. Police identified the man arrested at the scene by officers who intervened in the attack as David Depape, 42. He, too, was taken to a San Francisco hospital.
Online sheriff’s records showed he was booked into custody on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, battery, burglary, and several other felonies. Formal charges were expected to be filed by the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told a Friday night news briefing that police detectives, assisted by FBI agents, had yet to determine what precipitated the home invasion but said, “We know this was not a random act.”
A statement from Nancy Pelosi’s spokesperson, Drew Hammill, said Pelosi’s husband had been attacked “by an assailant who acted with force, and threatened his life while demanding to see the Speaker.”
The intruder shouted, “Where is Nancy?” before attacking, according to a person briefed on the incident but who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
In the search for a motive, attention turned to the suspect’s apparent internet profile.
In recent posts on several websites, an internet user named “daviddepape” expressed support for former President Donald Trump and embraced the cult-like conspiracy theory QAnon. The posts included references to “satanic pedophilia,” anti-Semitic tropes and criticism of women, transgender people and censorship by tech companies.
Older messages promoted quartz crystals and hemp bracelets. Reuters could not confirm that the posts were created by the man arrested on Friday.
The San Francisco Chronicle posted a photo of a man it identified as Depape dancing at the 2013 wedding of two nudist activists in San Francisco, though he was clothed. Depape, then a hemp jewelry maker who lived with the couple in Berkeley, was the best man, the newspaper reported.
Scott said the intruder forced his way into the Pelosis’ three-story red brick townhouse through a rear door. Aerial photos showed shattered glass at the back of the house in the city’s affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood.
The chief said police were dispatched for an “A-priority wellbeing check” at about 2:30 a.m. on the basis of a somewhat cryptic emergency-911 call from the residence. Other news outlets reported the call was placed by Paul Pelosi.
Scott credited the 911 operator with using her experience and intuition to “figure out that there was more to this incident than what she was being told” by the caller, so she dispatched the call at a higher priority than normal. Scott called her decision “life-saving.”
According to Scott, police arriving at the scene caught a glimpse through the front door of Depape and Pelosi struggling over a hammer. As the officers yelled at both men to drop the tool, Depape yanked the hammer away and was seen striking Pelosi at least once, the chief said.
The officers then tackled, disarmed and arrested Depape and took both men to hospital, Scott said.

SourceReuters
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