Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband was assaulted at their San Francisco home


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul was violently attacked in a break-in at their San Francisco home overnight. The intruder is in custody, and Mr. Pelosi is being treated at the hospital. San Francisco Police Chief William Scott described what happened when officers arrived at their home around 2:30 a.m.


WILLIAM SCOTT: Our officers observed Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it. Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid.

SUMMERS: NPR congressional correspondent Deirdre Walsh joins us now with the latest. Deirdre, what more can you tell us about what happened?

DEIRDRE WALSH, BYLINE: Well, we first learned about this attack earlier this morning from Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. He put out a statement that there was this attack by an intruder against Paul Pelosi, who's 82 years old. San Francisco police say they were called to the house for a wellness check around 2:27 a.m. It's unclear who made that call. The man now in custody is 42-year-old David DePape. According to a source briefed on the investigation, DePape was specifically looking for the speaker and tells me that he confronted Paul Pelosi and asked, where's Nancy? Where's Nancy? San Francisco Police Chief William Scott, who we heard from earlier, said DePape is being charged with multiple crimes. Here's more.


SCOTT: The motive for this attack is still being determined. Mr. DePape will be booked at the San Francisco County jail on the following charges - attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and several other additional felonies.

WALSH: Pelosi's spokesman says Paul Pelosi underwent successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands. And his doctors expect a full recovery.

SUMMERS: And what do we know about the background of the suspect here?

WALSH: As we heard from the chief, they're still investigating the motive. They often look to social media postings in these types of cases. NPR has reviewed social media accounts from a man with the same name as DePape, and they include anti-Semitic tropes and also false claims about the 2020 election and the COVID vaccine. But right now, we just don't have much official information from law enforcement about any specific links to Pelosi.

SUMMERS: Doesn't the speaker of the House typically have security dedicated to themself as well as their family?

WALSH: Right. You know this, Juana. You saw this on the Hill. All the top leaders from both parties have security details assigned by the Capitol Police. The speaker was in Washington with her security team when the attack happened. And so her detail was with her, not at her home in San Francisco. Her spokesman said she's grateful to the first responders and requests privacy. And we do know that the FBI, the U.S. Capitol Police and San Francisco police have announced a joint threat investigation, so we're waiting to hear more from them.

SUMMERS: What more do we know about threats against leaders and members of Congress just more generally?

WALSH: They've really gone up dramatically in recent years against lawmakers from both parties. Five years ago, the U.S. Capitol Police recorded a little less than 4,000 threats that year. Just one year ago, 2021, the last full year where we have statistics, there were close to 10,000. Last year the U.S. Capitol Police opened up two field offices, one in Florida and one in California, because of heightened threats against lawmakers. And this year, money was added to lawmakers' budgets to allow them to upgrade security at their houses and their offices.

We've seen attacks against other members. New York Republican Lee Zeldin, who's running for governor in New York, was recently attacked by a man wielding a knife. We know there was an attack on the Republicans practicing for a baseball team, including the No. 2 House Republican, Steve Scalise, in 2017. You know, lawmakers are pretty shaken up today and both expressing sympathy for Mr. Pelosi.

SUMMERS: That's NPR's Deirdre Walsh. Thank you for your reporting on this.

WALSH: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOSE GONZALEZ'S "INSTR.") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.