U.S. House Speaker Pelosi’s husband assaulted with hammer at home, motive unclear

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 28 (Reuters) – The husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attacked by a hammer-wielding man during a break-in at the couple’s San Francisco home early on Friday, authorities said, in an attack that raised fears of political violence before the November 8 mid-term elections.

Her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, Pelosi’s office said.

The man arrested at the scene, David Depape, 42, will be charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and several other criminal charges, said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott.

The Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, who is second in line for the US presidency, was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the attack, according to Capitol Police.

The authorities said they were still investigating the motive for the attack in the early hours of the morning.

CNN, citing a source, said the attacker yelled “Where’s Nancy?” before the attack and told police he was “waiting for Nancy” when they arrived at the scene.

It was unclear how the intruder entered the three-story red brick townhouse in the affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood. Aerial photos showed shattered glass on a door at the back of the house. Streets around the residence were closed on Friday morning.

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The attack occurred less than two weeks before midterm elections where control of the US House and Senate is at stake.

Scott said police were dispatched to the house at 2:27 a.m. Pacific time (0927 GMT), where they encountered Depape and Paul Pelosi both holding a hammer, before Depape took the hammer away and attack Pelosi.

Police disarmed and arrested Depape and took both men to a hospital for treatment, Scott said.

He declined to answer questions and said police would provide more details later.

Paul Pelosi was being treated for bruising, severe swelling and other injuries after being severely beaten to the head and body, the Associated Press reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

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President Joe Biden called Pelosi to express his support, according to White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also said he reached out to Pelosi, while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “horrified and disgusted” by the attack.

Capitol Police, which are responsible for protecting Congress, said they were working with the FBI and San Francisco police on the investigation.

New York City police warned Thursday that extremists could target politicians, political events and polling places ahead of the midterm elections.

Republicans have been campaigning on concerns about violent crime, as well as inflation and other quality of life issues. San Francisco’s crime rate in 2021 was 1.5 times the national average, according to several crime tracking websites.

As a Democratic leader in Washington and a longtime representative from one of America’s most liberal cities, Pelosi, 82, is a frequent target of Republican criticism and is often featured in attack ads.

Her office was ransacked during the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of then-Republican Donald Trump, some of whom were hunting for her during the attack.

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In January 2021, her home was vandalized with graffiti saying “Cancel the rent” and “We want everything” painted on the house and a pig’s head left in front of the garage, according to media reports.

McConnell’s home was also vandalized around that time.

In a polarized political climate, threats against both Republican and Democratic lawmakers are on the rise. Capitol Police said they investigated 9,625 incidents in 2021, a nearly three-fold increase from 2017.

A gunman angered by Trump shot and wounded five Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in 2017, and Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot in the head at a public appearance in 2011.

Paul Pelosi, who owns real estate and a venture capital firm from San Francisco, was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after being involved in a car accident in May. He was sentenced to five days in jail in Napa County, California.

Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Doina Chiacu, Rich McKay, Rami Ayyub, Tim Ahmann and Gram Slattery; Edited by Andy Sullivan, Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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