Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Paul Pelosi attack suspect sought to take speaker hostage, prosecutors say

Paul Pelosi attack suspect sought to take speaker hostage, prosecutors say

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The man accused of bludgeoning US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer after breaking into the couple's home threatened to take her hostage and break her kneecaps if she lied under his questioning, according to a federal criminal complaint .

David Wayne DePape's alleged intentions emerged as federal prosecutors charged the 42-year-old suspect with assault and attempted kidnapping in Friday's predawn break-in at the Pelosis' San Francisco home.

Several state charges were filed separately in San Francisco Superior Court, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, elder abuse and threatening a public official, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced at a news conference. An arraignment was set for Tuesday, her office said.

The 82-year-old speaker of the US House of Representatives, a Democrat who is second in the line of succession to the US presidency, was in Washington at the time of the assault. Her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, a real estate and venture capital executive, has undergone surgery for skull fractures and injuries to his hands and right arm, and he remained hospitalized on Monday.

"Paul is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process," the speaker said in a statement on Monday.

The attack, which Jenkins called "politically motivated," has stoked fears about partisan extremist violence just over a week ahead of the midterm elections, on Nov. 8, that will decide control of Congress during one of the most vitriolic and polarized US campaigns in decades. Democrats' continued control of both the House and the Senate is at stake.

As one of the highest-ranking Democrats in Washington and a longtime representative of one of America's most liberal cities, Nancy Pelosi has been a frequent lightning rod for expressions of conservative criticism and contempt.

Her office was ransacked during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by a mob of supporters of Republican President Donald Trump, some of whom hunted for her during the melee, following a fiery speech by Trump featuring false claims that his defeat in the 2020 presidential election was the result of fraud.

AWAKENED BY STRANGER

DePape was arrested by police officers dispatched to the Pelosis' home after Paul Pelosi placed an emergency-911 call reporting an intruder, according to an FBI affidavit filed as part of the federal criminal complaint.