The man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home and violently assaulting her husband Paul Pelosi early Friday morning was allegedly hoping to take the speaker hostage—as reports show the 42-year-old Canadian citizen who reportedly stayed in the U.S. after his visa expired had a history of promoting conspiracy theories and white supremacy ideologies online.
After allegedly breaking into the Pelosis’ home, David DePape, who was arrested Friday after attacking Paul Pelosi, yelled “Where is Nancy?”—echoing the chants from the January 6 rioters, who stormed the Capitol Building and broke into the Speaker’s office—before attempting to tie up and severely beating her husband.
DePape was planning to potentially break the House speaker’s “knee caps” to make her an example for other members of Congress who fail to tell the “truth,” according to the Department of Justice, which on Monday charged DePape with assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official, which carry maximum sentences of 30 and 20 years, respectively.
DePape pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder and threats to a public official.
DePape reportedly maintained several blogs where he would regularly spread conspiracy theories and white supremacist ideologies backed by QAnon—the unfounded theory that the United States is controlled by a cabal of Democratic sex traffickers and cannibals—according to his daughter, Inti Gonzalez, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times.
His posts, which have since been deleted, included titles like “It’s OK to be white” and “Holohoax,” as well as one called “Q,” in which he wrote the anonymous leader of QAnon is either Trump or the “deepstate moles within Trump’s inner circle.”
DePape, 42, also spread violent, racist and antisemitic posts, including one stating “the more Ukrainians die NEEDLESSLY (in the war with Russia) the cheaper the land will be for Jews to buy up,” and another arguing journalists who deny Trump’s baseless claim of voter fraud in the 2020 election “should be dragged straight out into the street and shot,” the Associated Press reported.
DePape is a Canadian citizen who has stayed in the U.S. for more than two decades on an expired visa, the AP also reported, citing an anonymous U.S. officials.
Paul Pelosi, 82, is making “steady progress on what will be a long recovery process,” the Speaker’s office said in a statement Monday, after he successfully underwent surgery Friday afternoon to repair his arm, hands and skull, which was fractured when he was beaten with a hammer inside his home.
DePape was previously known as a “father figure” among some in Berkeley, California, where he made hemp jewelry and belonged to a small pro-nudity group, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He also was registered with the left-leaning Green Party.
Although lawmakers from both parties have condemned the attack, several high-profile Republicans have used it as an opportunity to slam immigration policies they view as overly lenient. On Tuesday, Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance said DePape was attacked by an “illegal alien in our country,” adding that he would support deporting “violent illegal aliens.” Earlier Tuesday, former President Donald Trump chimed in, saying on the Chris Stigall radio show the situation is “very sad” and “crazy,” while promoting the theory that the glass door DePape used to enter was broken from the inside.
DePape told police he wanted to take the House speaker hostage “to lure another individual” who federal authorities did not identify. He reportedly carried a bag of zip ties as well as a list of other potential targets whom he could have been planning to attack, anonymous law enforcement sources told CBS. According to an FBI affidavit, police also found an additional hammer, tape, rope and two pairs of gloves in DePape’s backpack, while they discovered more hammers and a sword in the garage where DePape lived in Richmond, Calif.
“The more you are untethered from the communal institutions that hold us together, the easier it is to do a dance step to the other side, because they share a distrust of institutions and processes,” Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
No motive has been determined, although San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said Friday it “was not a random act,” but an “intentional” and “wrong” act of violence. Lawmakers condemned the attack Friday night, with President Joe Biden calling it “despicable” at a speech at a Pennsylvania Democratic Party Independence Dinner. It comes amid a rise in violent threats against elected officials of both parties, following an attack on the home of Sen. Susan Collin (R-Maine), an incident involving a man stalking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) outside her office, and another of a man waiting outside Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash) Seattle home with a semiautomatic handgun. Intimidation and violence toward lawmakers has come into the national spotlight following the January 6 insurrection, when MAGA rioters stormed the Capitol, searching for proof of the baseless claim the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and demanding Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence overturn the results.
State And Federal Charges Announced Against Paul Pelosi Attack Suspect (Forbes)
Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack had list of targets, law enforcement sources say (CBS)
Paul Pelosi Attacker Identified — Allegedly Entered Home With Hammer Asking ‘Where Is Nancy?’ (Forbes)
Paul Pelosi Underwent Surgery After Alleged Hammer Attack At Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Home (Forbes)