Federal grand jury indictment reveals new details in attack on Paul Pelosi

FBI agents work outside the home of Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in San Francisco, Friday.
FBI agents outside the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 28 after her husband, Paul Pelosi, was attacked by an assailant with a hammer who had broken in. (Eric Risberg / Associated Press)
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

A federal grand jury indictment has revealed several new details in last month's violent attack against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

David DePape, 42, faces one count each of assault upon an immediate family member of a U.S. official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, and attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official on account of the performance of official duties, according to the superseding criminal complaint released Wednesday evening by the U.S. Department of Justice.

At 2:23 a.m. Oct. 28, San Francisco police received a roughly 2 minute, 30 second 911 call from Paul Pelosi, who said there was a man he didn't recognize in his home.

"Mr. Pelosi also conveyed that the man was looking for Mr. Pelosi’s wife, that Mr. Pelosi’s wife was Speaker Pelosi who would not 'be there for days,' and that the man said he would 'wait' for Speaker Pelosi," according to the indictment. "Mr. Pelosi made clear in the 911 call that he did not know who the man was."

DePape is heard in the background of the call stating that his name is "David" and that he is a "friend," according to the document. Pelosi told a dispatcher that he did not know the man.

"Towards the end of the call, when the dispatcher offered to stay on the phone with him, Mr. Pelosi told the dispatcher that the man wanted Mr. Pelosi to 'get the hell off the phone,' " according to the indictment.

Moments later, at 2:31 a.m., two police officers knocked on the front door.

The officers, who had their body cameras on, opened the home's door and saw Pelosi wearing a long-sleeved shirt and DePape in shorts, running shoes and a sweatshirt standing in the foyer, according to the document. Pelosi and DePape were both holding on to a hammer.

When an officer asked what was going on, DePape replied "everything is good" while he used his other hand to "encircle Mr. Pelosi's right arm," the indictment said.

"Immediately, an officer said: 'drop the hammer,' " according to the document. "DePape responded, 'ummm nope.' "

He then raised the hammer over his head, pulling Pelosi closer to him, and swung the hammer "abruptly and forcefully" at Pelosi, the document said.

"In total, these events lasted approximately fifteen seconds," according to the indictment.

The officers rushed inside. Pelosi and DePape were on the floor, with DePape's legs on top of Pelosi. Officers restrained DePape and called for medical aid as blood pooled around Pelosi's head, according to the indictment.

DePape identified himself to the officers and said that he was alone and that he had a backpack on the porch. Officers found broken glass by a door where DePape broke into the home, and found zip ties in the Pelosi home.

"In a subsequent search of DePape's backpack, law enforcement found, among other things, a roll of tape, white rope, one hammer, and one pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal," the indictment said.

In an interview with investigators later that day, DePape explained how he entered the home and awakened Pelosi, according to the document.

After Pelosi told him that his wife wouldn't be home for a few days, DePape said he was tired from carrying the backpack and was going to zip tie Pelosi "so that he could take a nap."

DePape told Pelosi that Pelosi would "take the punishment" if he tried to stop him, and that DePape would "go through" Pelosi because he did not "come here to surrender," the document said.

DePape also said he did not leave the home after Pelosi called 911 because "much like the American Founding Fathers and the British, he was 'fighting tyranny' without the option of 'surrender,' " according to the indictment.

He also told investigators that he "yanked" the hammer away from Pelosi and swung it at Pelosi using "full force," the document said. DePape said he had a "target list" that included Nancy Pelosi, and that he planned to hold her hostage and talk with her.

If Speaker Pelosi told DePape the "truth," he planned to let her go, and if she "lied," he planned to break her kneecaps, according to the document.

DePape also had a plan to use Speaker Pelosi to lure someone "way up" on his target list, identified in the indictment only as Target 1.

During an Oct. 29 search of a garage in Richmond where DePape lived, agents seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, according to the document.

Electronic evidence seized from DePape showed that he had researched the Pelosi residence as recently as Oct. 26. That day, DePape also researched an address associated with Target 1, who was not identified in court documents, and looked up the home address for another person on his target list.

If convicted of the federal charges in Wednesday's indictment, DePape faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on the assault count, and 20 years on the attempted kidnapping count.

He has also been charged by the San Francisco district attorney 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.

DePape, who grew up in British Columbia and moved to California more than 20 years ago, was in the U.S. illegally and could be deported to Canada, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Records pulled by ICE found that DePape entered the U.S. as a temporary visitor in March 2008 at the San Ysidro port of entry. Canadians who enter as temporary visitors generally do not require a visa, officials said.

A Times review of his online accounts showed that DePape has been involved in the world of far-right conspiracies, antisemitism and hate.

In a personal blog DePape maintained, posts include “Manipulation of History,” “Holohoax” and “It’s OK to be white.” He mentions 4chan, a favorite message board of the far right. He posted videos about conspiracies involving COVID-19 vaccines and the war in Ukraine being a ploy for Jewish people to buy land.

DePape’s screeds include posts about QAnon, an unfounded theory that former President Trump is at war with a cabal of Satan-worshiping Democratic elites who run a child sex ring and control the world. In an Aug. 23 entry titled “Q,” DePape wrote: “Either Q is Trump himself or Q is the deep state moles within Trumps inner circle.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.