Skip to Content

What we know and still don’t know about the attack on Paul Pelosi

<i>Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP</i><br/>The man who is alleged to have attacked Paul Pelosi
Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP
The man who is alleged to have attacked Paul Pelosi

By Shawna Mizelle, CNN

The man who is alleged to have attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in the couple’s San Francisco home on Friday is expected to be charged with multiple felonies Monday, according San Francisco law enforcement officials. He is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

“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 [suspect David DePape] to be arraigned on Tuesday. DePape will be held accountable for his heinous crimes,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins tweeted Friday evening.

Here’s a look at what we know — and still don’t know — about the attack:

How it unfolded

An intruder, identified by police as David DePape, 42, confronted the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer early Friday morning, shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to a law enforcement source. The assailant attempted to tie Pelosi up “until Nancy got home,” two sources familiar with the situation told CNN.

Pelosi called 911 when he encountered the threatening man and left the line open so a dispatcher could hear his conversation with DePape, speaking surreptitiously but making it clear that he needed help, according to a law enforcement source.

San Francisco police entered the home around 2:27 a.m. local time Friday (5:27 a.m. ET) to find Pelosi struggling over a hammer with a man, who has since been identified as DePape, according to the city’s police chief. Officers saw DePape “violently assault” Pelosi with the hammer before they tackled him to the ground and arrested him.

“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,” Jenkins told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Friday.

Police said the DePape entered through a back door and it wasn’t clear if he circumvented any security measures.

Pelosi was taken to a hospital after the attack 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. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Motive remains unknown

Authorities said Friday that the suspect is in the hospital for minor injuries. 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. But he had posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid-19 vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

US Capitol Police said in a statement Friday that it is assisting the FBI and the San Francisco Police “with a joint investigation” into the break-in.

Law enforcement officials have not provided a motive for the attack, but San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said in a news conference Friday that the attack was “intentional” and “not a random act.”

“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,” Scott said.

Fears of political violence grow

Nancy Pelosi was not home at the time of the attack but traveled to California on Friday to be with her husband. The security detail for lawmakers, including the speaker, does not protect their spouses when the members of Congress are not with them. Pelosi was able to speak to her husband following the attack and before he was taken into surgery, according to a source familiar with the matter.

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 has also underscored fears of political violence directed toward lawmakers in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, as well as other high-profile violent incidents that have targeted lawmakers in recent years.

President Joe Biden described the attack on Paul Pelosi as “despicable” and directly tied the assault to growing strains of right-wing extremism.

“This is despicable. There’s no place in America — there’s too much violence, political violence. Too much hatred. Too much vitriol,” Biden told a fundraising dinner Friday in Philadelphia.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said in a tweet Friday that he was “horrified and disgusted” by the reports while House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s office said he had reached out to the speaker, a fellow Californian.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the assault was more evidence of “scary stuff” happening in politics around the country.

At a campaign rally Saturday in Baltimore, Harris recalled a time in the US when it was “appreciated that it is the diversity of opinions that will lead us to progress, to smart decisions.”

But now, she said, certain “so-called leaders” were using their positions to advance “preservation of their personal power” and to divide the country. They are “using the bully pulpit in a way that is propagating hate,” the vice president said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, speaking at the same rally, asked people to pray for Paul Pelosi and reflect on what led to the brutal attack.

“I want you to think upon the environment that has been created in America by some who would bring us down, who would pit one another against one another, who would degrade our Constitution and our declaration and our proposition that ‘all men and women are created equal'” the Maryland Democrat said. “We say, ‘Those truths are self-evident,’ but they are not self-executing. It is up to us to make sure that America survives the hate and division that too many purvey in our country.”

Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who is set to become House Oversight chairman if the GOP gains control of the House next year, said both Republicans and Democrats need to tone down the political rhetoric and admitted that he too could work on that.

“I condemn any attack of political violence from anyone of either party. It’s wrong,” Comer told CNN’s Pamela Brown on CNN Newsroom on Saturday. “I’ve said for several years now the rhetoric keeps getting worse and worse. It’s very difficult environment out there. You have a lot of people that get so fired up, because of various political causes. It puts many politicians in a dangerous spot.”

Comer referred back to the 2017 shooting at a baseball practice in which then-House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others were shot.

“It’s a terrible environment, and I believe people in both parties are guilty of intense rhetoric that really leads to — feed into these people who are deranged, and create violence. It’s the same thing that happened with the shooter that shot at Steve Scalise and several other Republican colleagues. Violence is wrong, these people need to be put in jail for the rest of their life, and we need to try and do better in both parties. Myself included,” Comer said.

‘An open investigation’

Authorities in San Francisco are appealing to the public to provide tips regarding the attack.

“While an arrest has been made, this remains an open investigation,” the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement.

Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444.

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

CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Clare Foran, Whitney Wild, Pamela Brown, Kevin Liptak, Sam Fossum and John Miller contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content