Pelosi attack suspect David DePape embraced hate speech, multiple conspiracy theories
SAN FRANCISCO -- The suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appears to have been an active online participant in multiple conspiracy theories, railing against perceived censorship and government control, and engaging in hate speech and antisemitism.
San Francisco police identified the suspect as 42-year-old David Wayne DePape, a Berkeley resident. DePape allegedly assaulted Paul Pelosi with a hammer early Friday during a home invasion of the couple's Pacific Heights residence. A source briefed on the attack told CBS News that before the assault occurred, the intruder confronted Mr. Pelosi shouting, "Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?"
DePape was known for embracing multiple conspiracy theories on subjects such as voter fraud, climate change, and the COVID pandemic on at least two different online forums. He also has posted antisemitic screeds and entries defending former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper formally known as Kayne West who recently made antisemitic comments.
In other posts, the writer said Jews helped finance Hitler's political rise in Germany and suggested an antisemitic plot was involved in Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine.
In a Sept. 27 post, the writer said any journalists who denied Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election "should be dragged straight out into the street and shot."
An Aug. 24 entry titled "Q," displayed a scatological collection of memes that included photos of the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and made reference to QAnon, the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory that espouses the belief that the country is run by a deep-state cabal of child sex traffickers, satanic pedophiles and baby-eating cannibals.
"Big Brother has deemed doing your own research as a thought crime," read a post that appeared to blend references to QAnon with George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."
In an Aug. 25 entry titled "Gun Rights," the poster wrote: "You no longer have rights. Your basic human rights hinder Big Brothers ability to enslave and control you in a complete and totalizing way."
In one of his recent posts about Donald Trump, DePape asserted, "Trump you NEEEEEEEED to make Tulsi your VP in 2024."
DePape's posts frequently fixated on the subject of government or tech company "censorship." One blog has subject tabs with such labels as "Pedophile normalization," Creationism," and "Facts are Racist."
Another website has categories such as "Climate Hysteria," "Da Jewbs," and "Groomer Schools." The web hosting service WordPress removed one of the sites Friday afternoon for violating its terms of service.
DePape also posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about COVID vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Two of DePape's relatives told CNN that he was 'out of touch with reality," estranged from his family, and confirmed that the Facebook account - which was taken down by the social media company on Friday - belonged to him.
Governor Gavin Newsom's office issued a statement following the attack, saying it was "another example of the dangerous consequences of the divisive and hateful rhetoric putting lives at risk and undermining our very democracy and Democratic institutions."
Other local reports identify DePape as a former nudism activist. The San Francisco Chronicle reports DePape was tapped to be the best man in a 2013 wedding of famed nudist activist Gypsy Taub at San Francisco City Hall. He was also one of a number of nudist activists who took marched against efforts by current state Sen. Scott Wiener, at the time a city supervisor representing the Castro and Noe Valley areas, who successfully pressed for a ban on public nudity, the Chronicle reported.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said officers arriving at the home Friday morning found Paul Pelosi and DePape struggling over a hammer. DePape then pulled the hammer away and attacked Pelosi with it before officers tackled him and took him into custody, Scott said.
Both Paul Pelosi and DePape were taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Nancy Pelosi, said Paul Pelosi was expected to make a full recovery.
Scott said DePape will be booked into jail on suspicion of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and more alleged offenses.
The case is being jointly investigated by San Francisco police, the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police and federal and local prosecutors, Scott said.Scott said DePape will be booked into jail on attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and other felony charges.
Scott later confirmed that DePape remained in the hospital. While he could not say anything about his medical condition, he assured reporters he would be booked on felony charges.
Scott also noted that the incident was not a random break-in and assault.
"We also know, based on our investigation at this point, that this was not a random act. This was intentional. And it's wrong. Our elected officials are here to do the business of their cities, of their counties, of their states and this nation," a visibly upset Scott said. "Their families don't sign up for this to be harmed, and it is wrong. And everybody should be disgusted about what happened this morning."
for more features.