US law enforcement has detained a 42-year-old man and said they will charge him with the violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, at their San Francisco home.
The assault occurred during the early hours of Friday morning, less than two weeks before midterm elections that will determine control of Congress. Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, DC, at the time. Paul Pelosi was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover.
According to a person briefed on the attack, the assailant was specifically looking for the House speaker, shouting “where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” as he confronted Paul Pelosi.
San Francisco police identified the suspect as David Depape, adding that he would be charged with several counts, including attempted murder. Police said a motive in the attack was still under investigation.
In a statement, the US Capitol Police said it was participating in a joint investigation into the assault, alongside the FBI and the San Francisco Police Department, which had the “suspect in custody”.
“The motivation for the attack is still under investigation,” the US Capitol Police said.
San Francisco police said Paul Pelosi, 82, was beaten with a hammer and suffered trauma injuries to his head and body. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said US president Joe Biden was “praying for Paul Pelosi and for Speaker Pelosi’s whole family” and had called her “to express his support after this horrible attack”.
“The president continues to condemn all violence and asks that the family’s desire for privacy be respected,” Jean-Pierre added.
With Nancy Pelosi in Washington with her security detail, Paul Pelosi may have lacked the protection he would have when he is in the Speaker’s company. The US Capitol Police said special agents from its California field office “quickly arrived on scene”, while investigators from its “threat assessment section” were sent to San Francisco to help the FBI and the local police with their probe.
Adam Lobsinger of the San Francisco police confirmed on Twitter that its officers responded to an incident on the “2600 block of Broadway”, which is in the city’s Pacific Heights neighbourhood, for a “home break-in” in which an 82-year-old male was attacked and taken to hospital. He added that William Scott, the San Francisco police chief, would speak to the media later in the day.
Reaction from Capitol Hill came quickly. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said he was “horrified and disgusted” by reports of the attack.
“What happened to Paul Pelosi was a dastardly act,” said Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and Senate majority leader. “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.”
Nancy and Paul Pelosi, who is a venture capitalist and an investor in real estate and sports teams, have been married since 1963 and have five children.