The man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, the husband of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told police he wanted to hold the congresswoman hostage and “break her kneecaps”, the authorities in California said on Monday afternoon.
David DePape, 42, confronted a sleeping Paul Pelosi in the couple’s San Francisco townhouse bedroom shortly before 2.30pm on Friday morning, according to a federal affidavit filed in court on Monday.
Federal prosecutors have filed two charges against DePape, days after police say he broke into the Pelosis’ home and struck the Democratic House of Representatives leader’s 82-year-old husband in the head with a hammer.
Paul Pelosi was left seriously injured in the attack and was in surgery for several hours on Friday, as his wife hurried back from Washington DC to the hospital where he was taken. He was operated on for a fractured skull as well as suffering serious wounding to his arms and hands.
DePape is charged federally with influencing, impeding or retaliating against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member. He also faces one count of attempted kidnapping of a US official on account of the performance of official duties.
The announcement of the federal charges comes as San Francisco’s district attorney is set to announce multiple state felony criminal charges as well against DePape.
He was arrested on Friday by police who had rushed to the house after an emergency call and detained on suspicion of attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary. He is expected to be arraigned on state charges on Tuesday.
San Francisco’s district attorney, Brooke Jenkins, rejected numerous conspiracy theories that swirled into the public domain over the weekend and on Monday, despite bipartisan condemnation of the attack from national political leaders on Friday, and an outcry over the rise in political violence and threats to lawmakers, their staff and families in a bitterly divided society.
Jenkins confirmed that the assailant was targeting Nancy Pelosi when he broke into the couple’s home. She wasn’t there and DePape, after reportedly calling out “Where’s Nancy?”, confronted Paul Pelosi with a hammer.