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 a 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.
When officers arrived at the Pelosi residence, they found the suspect and the victim both holding a single hammer, San Francisco police chief William Scott told reporters. While officers were on the scene, DePape grabbed the tool from Pelosi and attacked him with it, he added. They were both taken to a local hospital for treatment.
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 normally 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, due to a “home break-in” in which an 82-year-old male was attacked and taken to hospital.
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.