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Assailant tried to tie up Paul Pelosi in home attack and shouted, ‘Where is Nancy?’ sources say

<i>Andrew Harnik/AP</i><br/>Paul Pelosi (right)
Andrew Harnik/AP
Paul Pelosi (right)

By Jamie Gangel, Clare Foran, Whitney Wild and John Miller, CNN

Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked with a hammer at the couple’s home in San Francisco by a male assailant early Friday morning, law enforcement sources told CNN. The assailant who attacked him was searching for the speaker of the House, according to a source briefed on the attack.

The intruder confronted the speaker’s husband in their San Francisco home shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to the source. The man who assaulted Paul Pelosi tried to tie him up “until Nancy got home,” according to two sources familiar with the situation. When the police arrived, the assailant was saying he was “waiting for Nancy.”

“This was not a random act. This was intentional,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said during a news conference on the investigation, adding, “It’s wrong. Our elected officials are here to do the business of their cities, their counties, their states and this nation. Their families don’t sign up for this to be harmed and it is wrong.”

Pelosi, 82, was taken to a hospital and underwent a “successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Nancy Pelosi, said in a statement early Friday evening. The statement said that doctors expect he will make a full recovery.

Scott said authorities are still determining a motive in the attack, but they intend to book the suspect on felony charges.

“The suspect is still in the hospital, but let me say this: we intend to book the suspect, whether it’s in absentia or whether it’s in person — he will be booked for felony charges,” he said in a news conference Friday evening without providing additional details.

The attack sent shock waves through Washington and sparked an outpouring of condolences and condemnation from congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. It comes as fears of political violence directed toward lawmakers remain high in the wake of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol as well as other high-profile violent incidents that have targeted members of Congress in recent years.

Nancy Pelosi was able to speak to her husband after the attack and before he was taken into surgery, according to a source familiar with the matter. The speaker flew with her family to San Francisco on Friday to be with her husband, and another source familiar told CNN Friday evening that she was at the hospital.

“The Speaker and her family are thankful for the outpouring of support and prayers from friends, constituents and people around the country. The Pelosi family is immensely grateful to Mr. Pelosi’s entire medical team and the law enforcement officers who responded to the assault,” Hammill said in the Friday evening statement.

Police detail how the attack unfolded

Authorities identified 42-year-old David DePape as the suspect in the attack. Officials expect to “bring forward multiple felony charges” in connection with the incident next week, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins tweeted Friday evening.

“We are coordinating closely with federal and local law enforcement partners on this investigation. We will bring forward multiple felony charges on Monday and expect DePape to be arraigned on Tuesday. DePape will be held accountable for his heinous crimes,” she wrote.

Scott detailed Friday evening what responding law enforcement officers witnessed when they arrived at the scene.

When officers arrived at the Pelosi residence, Scott said, the front door was opened “by someone inside,” and the officers — from outside the door — observed Pelosi and DePape each had a hand “on a single hammer.”

While still outside the home, officers saw DePape pull the hammer away from Pelosi and attack Pelosi, the police chief said. Scott went on to say that Pelosi was struck by DePape at least once.

At an earlier news conference, Scott said the suspect had “pulled a 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,” he continued.

Paul Pelosi was able to call 911 at the start of the attack, according to a law enforcement source and another source familiar with the matter. He managed to keep the line open and the dispatcher could hear a conversation in the background, according to the law enforcement source.

Pelosi was talking in code, said the law enforcement source, providing enough detail so that the operator overhearing it could understand that there was something wrong. At the same time, Pelosi seemed to be trying not to make it obvious to the intruder that he had an open line, the source described.

The source said the dispatcher could hear Pelosi speaking about what was going on and dispatched police to check on the house.

The struggle with Pelosi was captured on a police body-camera as police came through the door to intervene, according to one of the sources.

Jenkins confirmed the call, telling CNN’s Erin Burnett: “It is really thanks to Mr. Pelosi having the ability to make that call, and truly the attention and the instincts of that dispatcher to realize that something was wrong in that situation and to make the police call a priority so they got there within two minutes to respond to this situation.”

Police have been able to speak with the suspect, who suffered “some minor injuries” during the incident, Jenkins said. Scott declined to provide additional details on the suspect’s condition Friday evening.

‘Too much hatred’

The man who allegedly attacked Paul Pelosi early Friday posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6 attack, and an acquaintance told CNN that he seemed “out of touch with reality.”

DePape was not known to US Capitol Police and was not in any federal databases tracking threats, according to three sources who were briefed on the investigation.

The US Capitol Police said in a statement earlier in the morning that they are assisting the FBI and the San Francisco Police “with a joint investigation” into the break-in at the Pelosi residence in California.

The assailant entered the Pelosi residence through the back of the house, according two sources familiar with the early details of the incident.

With Speaker Pelosi away, there would not have been a security detail at the residence, according to one source familiar with protocol.

There may be video that US Capitol Police and law enforcement can review as there are security cameras at the home, according to two law enforcement sources.

President Joe Biden spoke with Speaker Pelosi on Friday and helped arrange her travel from Washington to San Francisco.

Later in the day, the President directly tied the assault to growing strains of rightwing extremism in remarks at a fundraising dinner in Philadelphia later Friday.

“This is despicable. There’s no place in America — there’s too much violence, political violence. Too much hatred. Too much vitriol,” Biden said.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said in a tweet on Friday he is “horrified and disgusted” by the reports that Pelosi was assaulted in his home.

“Grateful to hear that Paul is on track to make a full recovery and that law enforcement including our stellar Capitol Police are on the case,” the Kentucky Republican said.

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy reached out to Speaker Pelosi after the attack, according to McCarthy’s office.

“Leader McCarthy reached out to the Speaker to check in on Paul and said he’s praying for a full recovery and is thankful they caught the assailant,” said Mark Bednar, a spokesman for McCarthy.

The Pelosis have been married since 1963 and have five children.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Dana Bash, Megan Trimble, Casey Tolan, Curt Devine, Daniel Medina and Majlie Kamp and Paul Murphy, Melanie Zanona, Holmes Lybrand, Ali Zaslav, Betsy Klein, Karl de Vries and Sunlen Serfaty contributed to this report.

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