Police: Pelosi suspect wanted to break speaker’s knees

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By Lisa Mascaro, Stefanie Dazio and Terry Chea

Associated Press

San Francisco (AP) — The man accused of attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer told police he wanted to hold the Democratic leader hostage and “break her kneecaps” to show other members of Congress there were “consequences to actions,” authorities said Monday.

In a chilling federal complaint, officials say David DePape, 42, carrying zip ties, tape and a rope in a backpack, broke into the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday morning, went upstairs where 82-year-old Paul Pelosi was sleeping, and demanded to talk to “Nancy.”

“This house and the speaker herself were specifically targets,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said at a Monday evening news conference announcing state charges against DePape, including attempted murder.

“This was politically motivated,” Jenkins said. She implored the public to “watch the words that we say and to turn down the volume of our political rhetoric.” Investigators believe DePape had been researching in advance to target Pelosi, Jenkins said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“This was not something that he did at the spur of the moment,” she said.

In a statement late Monday, Speaker Pelosi said her family was “most grateful” for “thousands of messages conveying concern, prayers and warm wishes.” Her husband underwent surgery for a fractured skull and other injuries after the attack. She said he was making “steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

The stark narrative laid out by state and federal prosecutors stands in contrast to the mocking jokes and conspiracy theories circulated by far-right figures and even some leading Republicans just a week before midterm elections. A record number of security threats are being reported against lawmakers and election officials.

At a campaign event Monday in Arizona, Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, drew hearty laughs as she joked about security at the Pelosi home.

In addition to the state charges, DePape was also charged Monday in federal court with influencing, impeding or retaliating against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member. He also faces one count of attempted kidnapping of a United States official because of their official duties.

No attorney has been listed for DePape. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on the state charges, and prosecutors will ask for him to be held in jail without bail.

Authorities said DePape smashed a glass door in the back of the home with a hammer, went to the upstairs bedroom and told a surprised Paul Pelosi to wake up.

When Paul Pelosi told the intruder his wife was not home, DePape said he would wait — even after being told she would not be home for some days. The assailant then started taking out twist ties to tie Pelosi up, the complaint says.

DePape told investigators he wanted to talk to Speaker Pelosi and viewed her as the “leader of the pack of lies told by the Democratic Party,” according to the eight-page complaint.

“If she were to tell DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go and if she ’lied,’ he was going to break her kneecaps,” the complaint alleges.