Suspect in attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband previously lived in Canada: U.S. reports

Click to play video: 'Paul Pelosi attacked: Man charged with hammer attack on US House Speaker’s husband previously lived in Canada'
Paul Pelosi attacked: Man charged with hammer attack on US House Speaker’s husband previously lived in Canada
WATCH: The man charged with attempting to kill U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband appears to have made racist and often rambling posts online, including some that question the results of the 2020 election. The man also has a Canadian connection, having grown up in Powell River, B.C. before moving to San Francisco two decades ago. Jennifer Johnson reports – Oct 29, 2022

The husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recovering from serious injuries in hospital after being “violently assaulted” in the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday morning.

The Associated Press and CNN reported the suspect, identified by police as 42-year-old David DePape, previously lived in Canada before moving to California over 20 years ago.

Click to play video: 'Report: Suspect in assault of Nancy Pelosi’s husband has B.C. connection'
Report: Suspect in assault of Nancy Pelosi’s husband has B.C. connection

Gene DePape, who the Associated Press identified as the suspect’s stepfather, was quoted by the wire service as saying the suspect lived with him in Canada until he was 14 and was a quiet boy.

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“He was reclusive,” said Gene DePape, adding, “He was never violent.”

Global News briefly spoke to Gene DePape, who would only say he had not been in contact with David since 2003.

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According to the Associated Press, he said he had tried to get in touch with his stepson several times over the years without success.

CNN, who also reported having spoken to Gene DePape and other family members, said the family was based in Powell River, B.C.

Melissa DePape, who lives in Powell River, told Global News David DePape is her husband’s cousin, but said she had never met the suspect. She said her husband had not seen or spoken to David in over 20 years.

San Francisco Police declined to comment on David DePape’s citizenship, citing California sanctuary laws. The FBI also wouldn’t provide details to Global News.

The RCMP and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino’s office have yet to respond to requests for comment from Global News sent Friday afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Biden says there’s ‘no place for political  violence in America,’ blames ‘MAGA Republicans’ ahead of midterm elections'
Biden says there’s ‘no place for political violence in America,’ blames ‘MAGA Republicans’ ahead of midterm elections

San Francisco Police identified David DePape as the suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi and said he would be charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and other charges.

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The allegations against DePape have not yet been proven in court.

Police Chief William Scott told reporters officers arrived at the Pelosi home around 2:30 a.m. PT to find Paul Pelosi and an intruder both holding a hammer. The intruder then yanked it from Pelosi and began beating him before being subdued and arrested by officers.

Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the attack.

Sources told the Associated Press and other outlets that the intruder was searching for the Democratic leader, shouting “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” before assaulting Paul Pelosi — a chilling reminder of some of the chants heard during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“This was not a random act,” Scott told reporters during a follow-up media appearance Friday night. “This was intentional. And it’s wrong.”

The 82-year-old was severely beaten, suffering blunt force trauma after he was struck several times in the head, police said.

He was admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital where he underwent surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his arms and hands, according to a statement from Nancy Pelosi’s office.

“His doctors expect a full recovery,” spokesperson Drew Hammill said.

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A pair of FBI agents work outside the home of Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Paul Pelosi, was attacked and severely beaten by an assailant with a hammer who broke into their San Francisco home early Friday, according to people familiar with the investigation. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg).

U.S. Capitol Police, tasked with protecting congressional leaders, said Nancy Pelosi was with her protective detail in Washington at the time her husband was attacked.

She’d just returned this week from a security conference in Europe and is due to keynote an advocacy event Saturday evening in Washington with Vice President Kamala Harris.

Authorities were still investigating a motive for the predawn attack, which was witnessed and interrupted by police officers dispatched to the Pelosi home for an “A-priority wellbeing check,” Scott told reporters.

Recent posts on several internet sites by a user named “daviddepape” include references to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, QAnon, criticism of women, “satanic pedophilia,” censorship by tech companies, and other far-right political themes. Older messages promote quartz crystals and hemp bracelets.

Reuters could not confirm that the posts were made by the suspect.

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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.

Often at Nancy Pelosi’s side during formal events in Washington, Paul Pelosi is a wealthy investor who largely remains on the West Coast. They have five adult children and many grandchildren. The two have been married 59 years.

Earlier this year, Paul Pelosi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving under the influence charges related to a May crash in California’s wine country and was sentenced to five days in jail and three years of probation.

U.S. President Joe Biden and lawmakers from both parties reacted to the assault with shock and expressed their well wishes to the Pelosi family.

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“What happened to Paul Pelosi was a dastardly act,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “I spoke with Speaker Pelosi earlier this morning and conveyed my deepest concern and heartfelt wishes to her husband and their family, and I wish him a speedy recovery.”

“We have been to many events with the Pelosis over the last 2 decades and we’ve had lots of occasions to talk about both of our families and the challenges of being part of a political family. Thinking about the Pelosi family today,” tweeted Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Joe Biden has also been in contact with Nancy Pelosi.

“The President is praying for Paul Pelosi and for Speaker Pelosi’s whole family,” Jean-Pierre said.

“This morning he called Speaker Pelosi to express his support after this horrible attack. He is also very glad that a full recovery is expected. The president continues to condemn all violence, and asks that the family’s desire for privacy be respected.”

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The Pelosi home in the wealthy Pacific Heights neighborhood has been the scene of several protests in the past few years. After Nancy Pelosi was seen on video getting her hair done at a salon while many were shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, stylists protested outside with curling irons.

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Members of the Chinese community protested outside recently before Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan. And during debates over the federal stimulus package protesters scrawled anarchy signs in black paint across the garage door, along with “cancel rent,” and “we want everything.”

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.

U.S. midterms loom as tensions deepen

New York City police warned on Thursday that extremists could target politicians, political events and polling sites ahead of the midterm elections on Nov. 8.

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.

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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 while calling out her name in the hallways.

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In January 2021, her home was vandalized with graffiti messages 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.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House Jan. 6 panel, condemned the rise of incendiary campaign rhetoric vilifying political opponents and promoting falsehoods about widespread voter fraud.

“When you convince people that politicians are rigging elections, drink babies blood, etc, you will get violence. This must be rejected,” he wrote on Twitter, calling on Republican candidates and elected officials to “speak out, and now.”

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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.

— with files from Global’s Simon Little and Amanda Connolly, the Associated Press and Reuters.

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