Paul Pelosi Attacker DePape Was Prepared to Kidnap and Injure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Federal Complaint Charges

Michael Short | San Francisco Chronicle | AP
  • The Justice Department filed two federal criminal charges against David DePape, who is accused of viciously attacking Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
  • DePape was charged with attempted kidnapping, and with retaliating against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member.
  • DePape was arrested by San Francisco Police on Friday after he was found at the Pelosi home, where he hit the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer.

The California man accused of viciously attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer was prepared to kidnap and break the kneecaps of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he invaded the couple's San Francisco home, federal prosecutors revealed in a new criminal complaint Monday.

David DePape, 42, was charged with the federal crimes of attempted kidnapping of a federal official, and assaulting an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official.

DePape already was facing state charges of attempted murder and other felonies in the early Friday morning attack on Paul Pelosi. The 82-year-old suffered a skull fracture, and remained in an intensive care unit Monday.

The new federal complaint said that evidence shows DePape, who had been living in a garage of a home in the city of Richmond for nearly two years, "was prepared to detain and injure Speaker Pelosi when he entered" the Democrat's residence.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi arrive on the red carpet for the Time 100 Gala at the Lincoln Center in New York on April 23, 2019.
Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi arrive on the red carpet for the Time 100 Gala at the Lincoln Center in New York on April 23, 2019.

Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who is second in the line of presidential succession, was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the break-in.

DePape arrived at her San Francisco home toting zip ties, tape, rope and at least one hammer, authorities said.

During an interview with San Francisco Police after his arrest, DePape "stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her," the complaint said.

"If Nancy were to tell DePape the 'truth,' he would let her go, and if she 'lied,' he was going to break 'her kneecaps,'" the charging document said. "DePape was certain that Nancy would not have told the 'truth.'"

During his interview, DePape said he viewed Pelosi as "the 'leader of the pack' of lies told by the Democratic Party," according to the filing.

"DePape also later explained that by breaking Nancy's kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions," the complaint said.

The filing said that the suspect "also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DePape." That other person is not identified in the complaint.

The charging document said DePape admitted breaking into the house through a glass door in the back, using the hammer he had brought with him.

Paul "Pelosi was asleep when DePape came into Pelosi's bedroom and stated he wanted to talk to 'Nancy,'" the complaint said. It noted that the suspect later told police that Pelosi appeared surprised when he showed up and announced, "he was looking for Nancy."

"When Pelosi told him that Nancy was not there, DePape stated that he would sit and wait," the complaint said. DePape reiterated that after Pelosi said the speaker would not be home for several days.

DePape soon afterward took out zip ties to bind Pelosi so that DePape "could go to sleep as he was tired from having to carry a backpack to the Pelosi residence," according to the filing.

Pelosi moved toward another part of the house but was stopped by DePape, and together they returned to the bedroom, the complaint said. As the men talked, Pelosi went into a bathroom and grabbed a phone to call 911, the complaint said.

DePape said he felt like Pelosi's actions "compelled him to respond," according to the filing.

"DePape remembered thinking that there was no way the police were going to forget about the phone call," the complaint recounted.

"DePape explained that he did not leave after Pelosi's call to 9-1-1 because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender," the charging document said. "DePape reiterated this sentiment elsewhere in the interview."

DePape told police he and Pelosi then went downstairs to the front door. Police arrived and knocked on the door, and Pelosi ran to open it, the complaint said.

"Pelosi grabbed onto DePape's hammer, which was in DePape's hand. At this point in the interview, DePape repeated that DePape did not plan to surrender and that he would go 'through' Pelosi," according to the filing.

"Pelosi greeted the officers. The officers asked them what was going on. DePape responded that everything was good," the federal complaint said. "Officers then asked Pelosi and DePape to drop the hammer."

When officers ordered the men to drop the hammer, DePape gained control of it, and hit Pelosi in the head, knocking him out, authorities said.

DePape later told police that Pelosi's actions resulted in Pelosi "taking the punishment instead" of Nancy Pelosi.

Police found a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties at the crime scene, the Justice Department noted in a press release Monday. Some of those zip ties were in Paul Pelosi's bedroom.

A later search of the garage where DePape was living found two hammers, a sword, and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, along with documents that included DMV paperwork and IRS letters.

Pelosi remained in the intensive care unit at a San Francisco hospital, surrounded by family members, on Monday morning, sources told NBC.

Law enforcement officials including FBI agents on Sunday obtained Pelosi's account of the home invasion, a source with knowledge of the investigation told NBC.

Pelosi told police he had been asleep when DePape, whom he did not know, entered his bedroom looking for Nancy Pelosi, authorities said.

Pelosi had all of his cognitive functions and seemed to recall everything about the incident, the source said. 

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