Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, underwent surgery for a skull fracture after the attack.
Paul Pelosi, husband of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was taken to hospital with a skull fracture early yesterday after he was attacked at the couple’s home in California with a hammer by an assailant who was reported to have shouted “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”
Paul Pelosi, 82, underwent “successful surgery” to repair a skull fracture and other “serious injuries” sustained during the assault and is expected to make a full recovery, according to Nancy Pelosi’s longtime spokesperson, Drew Hammill.
“Earlier this morning, Paul Pelosi was attacked at home by an assailant who acted with force, and threatened his life while demanding to see the speaker,” Hammill said.
“The Pelosi family is immensely grateful to Mr Pelosi’s entire medical team and the law enforcement officers who responded to the assault. The family appreciates respect for their privacy during this time.”
San Francisco police said that they were called to the Pelosi house in the city on a “wellbeing check” at about 2.27am local time yesterday morning.
They found a man confronting Paul Pelosi and both men grasping 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,” said Bill Scott, chief of the San Francisco police department.
Scott named the suspect as David DePape, 42, adding that any motive was still being determined.
Charges are to be brought at the San Francisco county jail, including attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and other felonies.
It was reported by CNN that the suspect intended to tie the victim up “until Nancy got home” and that he had posted rightwing conspiracy theories online, including content promoting the lie that Donald Trump was deprived of victory in the 2020 election because of voter fraud.
In a statement to CNN, an acquaintance of DePape’s said he appeared to be “out of touch with reality”.
Two of the suspect’s relatives also told the network that DePape, who grew up in British Columbia, Canada, was estranged from his family.
In addition to multiple conspiracy posts on his Facebook account, which was reviewed by CNN and later taken down by Meta yesterday, DePape is also believed to have managed a blog to which he regularly posted screeds concerning the “ruling class”.
The blog, which the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed, had a banner that said “Welcome to Big Brothers Censorship Hell”, along with numerous conspiracy posts about the government, media outlets and tech companies.
The attacker had specifically targeted the Pelosi family home, according to the Associated Press. Video footage of the house showed glass shattered in a side entrance, indicating where the break-in may have occurred.
A person briefed on the situation told AP that the intruder had confronted Paul Pelosi while demanding to know where his wife was.
A similar chant of “Where’s Nancy?” was made by insurrectionists during the assault on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
The speaker was not at home at the time of the attack, but was in Washington DC with security protection that accompanies her at all times.
MSNBC reported last night that she was travelling to San Francisco to be with her husband.
While the motivation for the attack was unclear, it raised fears about the safety of US lawmakers, their families and staff, particularly since the insurrection at the US Capitol by extremist Trump supporters.
In July, members of Congress were given $10,000 (£8,600) each to upgrade security at their homes.
Paul Pelosi is a businessman who runs his own real estate and venture capital investment firm, Financial Leasing Services.
He met Nancy when they were both students in Washington DC, and they married in 1963.