The man alleged to have “violently assaulted” Nancy Pelosi’s husband reportedly posted transphobic images and extremist conspiracy theories online.
Paul Pelosi, husband of US house speaker Nancy Pelosi, was “violently assaulted” by a man who broke into the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday (28 October), according to her spokesperson.
The suspect, David DePape, attacked Paul Pelosi with a hammer, according to San Francisco police chief William Scott. Scott said authorities believed the attack was “not a random act” and was “intentional”.
Police said Paul, 82, was struck at least one time, but it was unclear the extent of the attack. He underwent a “successful” surgery Friday to repair a “skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands”.
A source familiar with the matter told CBS News that DePape, 42, shouted “Where is Nancy?” before allegedly striking Paul. The intruder then planned to tie up the speaker’s husband and wait for her to return home, the source said.
Nancy Pelosi was in Washington DC at the time of the attack.
A San Francisco police officer stands guard in front of the home of US speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi was not at home at the time of the attack. (Getty)
The San Francisco police chief said DePape was also sent to the hospital after the incident. DePape will face charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, battery, elder abuse and other felonies, Reuters reported.
The Rolling Stone reported DePape had a blog where he posted rants about COVID-19 and his beliefs shared by the QAnon movement at the time of his arrest. The blog included sections dedicated to transphobia, Holocaust denial, racism and voter fraud conspiracy theories.
DePape posted links on his Facebook page including transphobic images, websites claiming COVID-19 vaccines were deadly and videos alleging the 2020 presidential election was stolen, CNN reported.
Other blogs written by someone with the username “daviddepape” also espoused hateful views about the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalised groups. CNN wasn’t able to verify if they were written by DePape.
One blog featured anti-semitic posts and content linked to QAnon conspiracy theories. Other posts from the last couple of weeks included videos accusing LGBTQ+ people of “grooming” children, according to CNN.
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank dedicated to researching extremism and disinformation, believed DePape “likely was motivated by a wide range of conspiratorial beliefs”, ABC News reported.
“In the last two months, DePape has posted dozens of articles and videos to his blogs spreading conspiracies and hateful rhetoric related to COVID-19, women, Hillary Clinton, the Jewish community, federal law enforcement (eg, FBI), government censorship, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the climate crisis, QAnon, the 2020 election, the transgender community, and ‘grooming’ in schools,” the Institute for Strategic Dialogue said.
Nancy Pelosi is one of the most powerful politicians and leaders in the Democratic Party in the US.
Pelosi was re-elected to a fourth term as speaker of the House in 2021, making her second in line to the presidency after vice president Kamala Harris.
President Joe Biden condemned the “despicable” attack on Paul Pelosi on Friday in a speech in Philadelphia, Reuters reported.
“Enough is enough is enough,” Biden said. “Every person of good conscience needs to clearly and unambiguously stand up against the violence in our politics, regardless of what your politics are.”
California governor Gavin Newsom’s office condemned the “heinous assault” on Paul Pelosi as “another example of the dangerous consequences of the divisive and hateful rhetoric putting lives at risk and undermining our very democracy and Democratic institutions”.