Paul Pelosi attack suspect 'was on suicide mission'

Nancy and Paul Pelosi in Washington, DC
Nancy Pelosi is one of the most senior politicians in the country

A man accused of a hammer attack on the husband of senior US politician Nancy Pelosi told police he was on a "suicide mission", according to court documents.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco court on Tuesday to attempted murder of Paul Pelosi, 82, and assault with a deadly weapon.

He allegedly broke into the couple's home early on Friday.

Court documents say he had planned to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and break "her kneecaps" if she "lied" to him.

Mrs Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency, was on the other side of the country at the time.

According to court papers cited by US media, Mr DePape told police at the scene that he was sick of the "lies coming out of Washington DC".

"I didn't really want to hurt him, but you know this was a suicide mission," he allegedly said. "I'm not going to stand here and do nothing, even if it cost me my life."

Mr DePape also told police he planned to target several state and federal politicians and members of their families, as well as a local professor, according to the filing.

No potential targets were named in the court papers.

Judge Diane Northway of the Superior Court in San Francisco denied Mr DePape bail at Tuesday's hearing.

The defendant's lawyer, Adam Lipson, said his client - who appeared in court with his right arm in a sling - had his shoulder dislocated during his arrest. He has since been moved from hospital to county jail.

Image shows police outside the Pelosi residence in San Francisco on Friday
Paul Pelosi was violently assaulted by an intruder at the couple's San Francisco home early on Friday

Mr Pelosi remains in hospital. Mrs Pelosi has said her husband is "making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process".

The charges filed against Mr DePape are being brought by the state of California, but he also faces federal counts of assault and attempting to kidnap Mrs Pelosi. No court date has yet been set for that case.

The suspect's lawyer also pleaded not guilty on Tuesday on his client's behalf to the other charges he faces:

  • Elder abuse

  • Burglary

  • False imprisonment

  • Threatening a public official

The accused would face 13 years to life in prison if convicted on the state charges and a maximum of 50 years on the federal charges.

The justice department said the suspect had a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer and zip ties in his possession when he was arrested.

He had been searching for the top Democrat and reportedly shouted "Where is Nancy?" while inside the property.

According to the authorities, he also told police that if Mrs Pelosi was injured, she would have had to use a wheelchair to enter Congress, which would send a message to other politicians.

Mrs Pelosi, 82, was in Washington DC, but flew back to see her husband in hospital, where he underwent successful surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his hands and right arm. The venture capitalist has been married to Mrs Pelosi since 1963.

Hours after the attack, the US government distributed a bulletin to law enforcement across the nation warning of a "heightened threat" of domestic violent extremism against candidates and election workers driven by individuals with "ideological grievances".

A blog, website and social media accounts under the name of the suspect seen by the BBC contained anti-Semitic memes, Holocaust denial, references to far-right websites and conspiracy theories such as QAnon.