Paul Pelosi tricked intruder, alerted cops before being beaten with hammer, police say
It was early Friday morning when someone broke through the rear door of a large hillside home in San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood.
The home belonged to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and her husband, Paul, and police allege the man who broke in, David DePape, 42, was on a mission.
Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., with her protective detail. But Paul Pelosi was home.
New details are emerging of what happened next, an attack that left Paul Pelosi seriously injured in what police say was an intentional act and left many stunned at yet another display of political violence.
David DePape, 42, has been arrested in connection with a violent attack on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi.
According to police, DePape allegedly entered the house and at some point confronted Paul Pelosi.
For the record:
10:54 a.m. Oct. 31, 2022An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name of 911 dispatcher Heather Grives as Grimes.
Pelosi told the intruder that he had to use the bathroom, then made a surreptitious 911 call on his cellphone and left the line open, sources familiar with the attack told The Times. Dispatcher Heather Grives could hear Pelosi talking to his attacker and alerted officers to the scene.
In a communication between a dispatcher and a police car, the dispatcher says “there’s a male in the home and that he’s going to wait for his wife. The dispatcher said the man on the line “doesn’t know who the male is, but he advise that his name is David and then [said] he is a friend.” The caller, she added, “sounded somewhat confused.”
A law enforcement source in San Francisco said officials believe Pelosi was intentionally giving coded information because the intruder knew Pelosi was on the phone and wanted to signal to the dispatcher that something was wrong.
At a press conference Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott praised Grives’ quick thinking.
“She had to interpret what she was being told,” he said at the news conference. “And based on her experience and intuition, she basically figured out that there was something more to this incident than what she was being told. Her actions, in my opinion, resulted in both a higher-priority dispatch and a faster police response.”
It took police about two minutes to get to the house.
Suspect David DePape has been booked on suspicion of attempted murder and other counts. The assault on Paul Pelosi raises concerns as attacks on public officials rise.
When officers arrived and knocked on the front door, Scott said, someone inside opened the door. The officers saw Paul Pelosi and DePape, “each with one hand on a single hammer,” he said.
After officers ordered both men to drop the hammer, DePape “immediately” pulled the tool from Pelosi and “violently attacked him with the hammer,” Scott said.
Police tackled the assailant, grabbed the hammer and took him into custody before calling for backup and beginning first aid.
A source who was briefed on the attack said the assailant confronted Paul Pelosi and shouted, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” before the assault occurred.
The attacker who confronted Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul in their home yelled, ‘Where is Nancy?’ Read our full coverage.
DePape was booked Friday afternoon on suspicion of attempted murder, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, threatening a family member of a public official, elder abuse, battery with serious bodily injury, dissuading a witness and injuring a wireless device.
A Times review of his online accounts show David DePape had been drifting further into the world of far-right conspiracies, antisemitism and hate.
In a personal blog that DePape maintained, posts include such topics as “Manipulation of History,” “Holohoax” and “It’s OK to be white.” He mentioned 4chan, a favorite message board of the far right. He posted videos about conspiracies involving COVID-19 vaccines and the war in Ukraine being a ploy for Jewish people to buy land.
DePape’s screeds included posts about QAnon, an unfounded theory that former President Trump is at war with a cabal of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring and control the world. In an Aug. 23 entry titled “Q,” DePape wrote: “Either Q is Trump himself or Q is the deepstate moles within Trumps inner circle.”
The attack at the Pelosi home in San Francisco is one in a string of incidents affecting members of Congress and their families this year.
Paul Pelosi, 82, is recovering from surgery at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital “to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi’s office. He is expected to recover fully.
Authorities praise him for his quick thinking when the intruder entered.
“It is really thanks to Mr. Pelosi having the ability to be able to make that call and truly the attention and instincts of that dispatcher to realize that something was wrong and to make the police call a priority,” San Francisco Dist. Atty. Brooke Jenkins told CNN.
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