House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she will scale back her role in Congress following last month’s brutal hammer attack on her husband, Paul Pelosi.
A trove of court documents released by prosecutors in San Francisco has shed more light on the suspect and the assault.
Questions remain, however, about the lack of security for the home of the person second in line to succeed the president and the suspect’s motivations.
Federal prosecutors have charged David DePape, 42, with a slew of charges related to the break-in and hammer attack at Mrs. Pelosi‘s home.
Mr. DePape has pleaded not guilty to one count of assaulting an immediate family member of a U.S. official and one count of attempting kidnapping of a U.S. official. If convicted on both charges, he could get up to 50 years in prison.
Social media posts linked to Mr. DePape, a pro-nudity activist and illegal immigrant, include rambling screeds promoting QAnon and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, rants against the COVID-19 vaccine, and claims insisting former President Trump won the 2020 election. He also lived in a Berkeley commune that flew Black Lives Matter and gay-pride flags.
However, authorities have not attributed an ideological motive to Mr. DePape’s purported actions.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said last week the attack was not a “random act of violence” or “random residential burglary.”
“This is something that was specifically targeted,” she said, without offering further explanation.
Court documents filed in the case say Mr. DePape told officers at the scene that he was sick of the “level of lies” coming from Washington.
Mr. DePape also told Mr. Pelosi that “we’ve got to take them all out,” referring to politicians, court documents say.
Court documents also allege that Mr. DePape was on “a suicide mission” and planned to break Mrs. Pelosi‘s kneecaps as a warning to other politicians.
Prosecutors say Mr. DePape had a list of other prominent targets, including state and federal politicians and their relatives. Investigators have declined to release the list, but it might appear in court documents if the case against Mr. DePape goes to trial.
Mr. DePape’s attorney, Adam Lipson, suggested his client may have been motivated by online conspiracy theories.
“What I will say is that there’s been a lot of speculation regarding Mr. DePape’s vulnerability to misinformation and that’s certainly something we are going to look into, that we are going to delve into as his defense team. But again it would be premature to talk about that at this time,” Mr. Lipson said last month.
The attack details
Mr. DePape broke a glass door to enter the residence, waking up Mr. Pelosi, who was sleeping in a bedroom, according to the federal complaint.
According to court documents, Mr. DePape allegedly threatened Mr. Pelosi but also allowed him to use the bathroom. While in the bathroom, Mr. Pelosi used his cell phone to call 911. Mr. Pelosi spoke cryptically to the dispatcher, including subtly identifying himself to elevate the call, according to court documents.
Officers arrived at the scene and saw two men struggling with each holding the opposite ends of a hammer, prosecutors claim.
An officer ordered Mr. DePape to drop the hammer, but he pulled it away and lunged at Mr. Pelosi, “striking Mr. Pelosi in the head at full force with the hammer,” knocking him unconscious,” according to court documents.
The biggest mystery surrounding the incident is the lack of security at the Pelosi residence.
Mrs. Pelosi has Capitol Police protection wherever she goes. But her husband did not have security that night because she was out of town, Ms. Jenkins said.
There are security cameras for residences, but they were not being monitored by the U.S. Capitol Police on the night of the invasion.
The San Francisco Police Department also stopped regularly posting a patrol car outside the Pelosi home last year. A spokesperson for the SFPD referred all requests for comment to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, which did not respond to a request for comment.
The Capitol Police first learned of the break-in about 10 minutes after the incident when an officer in Washington noticed police lights on the live camera feed of Mrs. Pelosi‘s home.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said last month the agency has launched a review of the incident and demanded more resources to protect the physical safety of all members of Congress.
Chief Manger said the Capitol Police “diligently” investigate threats and work to improve intelligence gathering. But he declined to publicly discuss those efforts saying he cannot “afford to make it easier for any potential bad actors.”
The Capitol Police doesn’t have the resources to protect the physical safety of every federal lawmaker. Security details do not extend to lawmakers’ families and rank-and-file members can only get a detail based on a threat assessment.