A hammer-wielding man attacked U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband during a break-in at the couple’s San Francisco home early on Friday, October 28, 2022, authorities said, in an assault that raised fears about political violence ahead of the November 8, 2022, midterm elections.
Her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, Pelosi’s office said.
The man arrested at the scene, David Depape, 42, will be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, and several other criminal charges, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said.
The Democratic speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who is second in the succession line of the U.S. presidency, was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the assault, according to the Capitol Police.
Authorities said they were still investigating a motive for the attack in the early hours of the morning.
CNN, citing a source, reported that the assailant shouted “Where is Nancy?” before the attack and told police he was “waiting for Nancy” when they arrived at the scene.
It was unclear how the intruder got into the three-story red brick townhouse in the affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood. Aerial photos showed shattered glass on a door at the rear of the house. Streets around the residence were closed off on Friday morning.
The assault occurred less than two weeks before midterm elections in which control of the House and U.S. Senate is at stake.
Scott said police were dispatched to the house at 2:27 a.m. Pacific time (0927 GMT), where they encountered Depape and Paul Pelosi both holding a hammer, before Depape pulled the hammer away and attacked Pelosi.
Police disarmed and arrested Depape and took both men to a hospital for treatment, Scott said.
He declined to answer questions and said police would provide more details later.
Paul Pelosi was being treated for bruising, severe swelling, and other injuries after being severely beaten in the head and body, the Associated Press reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the investigation.
President Joe Biden called Pelosi to express his support, according to White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also said he reached out to Pelosi, while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “horrified and disgusted” by the attack.
The Capitol Police, responsible for protecting Congress, said it was working with the FBI and San Francisco police on the investigation.
New York City police warned on Thursday that extremists could target politicians, political events, and polling sites ahead of the midterm elections.
Republicans have been campaigning on concerns about violent crime, as well as inflation and other quality-of-life issues. San Francisco’s crime rate in 2021 was 1.5 times the national average, according to several crime-tracking websites.
As a Democratic leader in Washington and a longtime representative from one of America’s most liberal cities, Pelosi, 82, is a frequent target of Republican criticism and is often featured in attack ads.
Her office was ransacked during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Republican then-President Donald Trump, some of whom hunted for her during the assault.
In January 2021, her home was vandalized with graffiti saying “Cancel rent” and “We want everything” painted on the house and a pig’s head left in front of the garage, according to media reports.
McConnell’s home also was vandalized around that time.
In a politically polarized climate, threats against Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been on the rise. Capitol Police said they investigated 9,625 incidents in 2021, nearly a threefold increase from 2017.
A gunman angered by Trump shot and wounded five Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in 2017, and Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot in the head at a public appearance in 2011.
Paul Pelosi, who owns a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital firm, was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after becoming involved in an auto accident in May. He was sentenced to five days in jail in Napa County, California.