Watch CBS News

Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and "break her kneecaps," DA says

get the free app
  • link copied
Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack "specifically targeted" House Speaker's home, DA says 15:00

David Wayne DePape, the man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home and violently attacking her husband, intended to kidnap her and possibly break "her kneecaps," he said, according to court documents.

He told San Francisco police after his arrest that, "If Nancy [Pelosi] were to tell DePape the 'truth,' he would let her go, and if she 'lied,' he was going to break 'her kneecaps,'" so that she would have to be wheeled into Congress. 

Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Monday night that "Paul is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process." Paul Pelosi was admitted the hospital after the assault and underwent what the speaker's office described as a "successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands."

The suspect had targeted the Pelosi home to confront the House speaker, interim San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said at a press conference Monday. DePape allegedly forced his way through a rear glass door, making his way to the second floor of the home, where Paul Pelosi was sleeping. He then woke Paul Pelosi, who was clad in a pajama shirt and boxer shorts, and asked where his wife was, according to Jenkins. 

Paul Pelosi then attempted to get to the elevator in the Pelosi home, Jenkins said, and asked to go to the bathroom, where he made a 911 phone call. The defendant then realized Paul Pelosi had made a phone call, Jenkins said. Two officers soon arrived, and when they did, they saw the defendant was holding a hammer, which he used to strike Pelosi, Jenkins said.

The FBI affidavit filed in the federal case against DePape also said that the San Francisco police "recovered zip ties in Pelosi's bedroom and in the hallway near the front door of the Pelosi residence." 

Law enforcement officers also searched DePape's backpack at the Pelosi residence and found "among other things, a roll of tape, white rope, one hammer, one pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal," the affidavit said. It stated that Paul Pelosi said he had never seen DePape before.

DePape, 42, is being charged with attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder, and threats to a public official and their family, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said investigators believe DePape intended to murder Paul Pelosi and that his actions were politically motivated. "What is clear, based on the evidence that we have thus far, is this house and the speaker herself were specifically targets of the defendant," Jenkins said. 

During the news conference Jenkins also called on leaders and citizens "to watch the words that we say and to turn down the volume of our political rhetoric." 

DePape was also charged Monday with federal counts of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He is scheduled to be arraigned in court in San Francisco Tuesday.

Suspect charged in Paul Pelosi home attack 03:42

DePape also had a list of people he wanted to target, law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation have told CBS News. The sources said he may have been planning to attack more people, had he not been arrested after assaulting Pelosi. 

— Rob Legare, Jeff Pegues and Gina Martinez contributed to this report

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.