Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack planned to break House speaker’s kneecap, DOJ says in filed charges

WASHINGTON — State and federal authorities on Monday announced criminal charges against the suspect in Friday’s brutal attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), which allegedly included a plan to break the lawmaker’s kneecap .

Federal prosecutors charged the suspect, David DePape, 42, with attempted kidnapping and assault with intent to retaliate against federal officials by threatening or harming family members.

Hours later, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced state charges, including attempted murder, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder and threats to public officials and their families.

The federal complaint alleges that DePape was trying to kidnap the Speaker of the House when she broke into her San Francisco residence, unaware that she was in Washington, D.C., and that only her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, was at home.

“Pelosi was asleep when DePape walked into Pelosi’s bedroom and said he wanted to talk to ‘Nancy’. When Pelosi told him Nancy wasn’t there, DePape said he would Just wait,” the complaint said, while adding that Paul Pelosi called authorities from the bathroom.

Police said they found zippers in Pelosi’s bedroom and in the hallway near the front door of the home. In DePape’s backpack, they said they also found “among other things, a roll of tape, white rope, a hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal.”

In a police interview on the day of the attack, DePape allegedly said: “He was going to take Nancy hostage and talk to her.”

“If Nancy told DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘ly lied,’ he would break ‘her kneecap,'” investigators said in the federal complaint.

The suspect also allegedly told investigators that “by breaking Nancy’s kneecap, she would have to be pushed into Congress, which would show other members of Congress that actions would have consequences.”

The federal complaint goes on to say that DePape told police “he wanted to use Nancy to lure another person” to him, but the complaint did not identify that person.

Jenkins said Monday that the state’s charges against DePape are based on facts contained in a federal affidavit and other information detailed in Tuesday’s motion to detain him without bail. His arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

At a news conference Monday night announcing the charges, Jenkins said the attack appeared to be politically motivated.

“It appears to be — based on the statements and comments he made in that house during his meeting with Mr. Pelosi — that it was politically motivated,” Jenkins said.

On Saturday, law enforcement determined that DePap had been living in the garage of a home in suburban Richmond, California, just outside San Francisco for the past two years. In the garage, “agents confiscated, among other things, two hammers, a sword and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves,” the complaint said.

The FBI has been working with San Francisco police and Capitol Police to investigate Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi.

A source with knowledge of the situation told NBC News earlier Monday that Paul Pelosi remains in intensive care surrounded by family. His testimony was obtained on Sunday by the FBI, San Francisco police, Capitol Police and the district attorney, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. The source said he was awake, had all cognitive functions and seemed to remember everything – and he told them his thoughts on the events.

On Friday, Pelosi’s office said he “successfully underwent surgery to repair a fractured skull and severe damage to his right arm and hand.” His doctors hope he will make a full recovery.

Two sources briefed on the investigation said the suspect was looking for the speaker of the House of Representatives, who was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the attack. Before the attack, the intruder confronted Paul Pelosi and shouted: “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said officers arrived at Pelosi’s home just before 2:30 a.m. PT and observed “Mr. Pelosi and the suspect holding a hammer. The suspect took the hammer out of Mr. Pull away. Pelosi and slam him with it.”

Police caught the suspect, disarmed him and took him into custody, Scott said. San Francisco police said Sunday that the zipper was found at the scene.

According to a family member of Pelosi, the suspect took a hammer and smashed the backyard-facing window of Pelosi’s home. The suspect tried to tie up Paul Pelosi as soon as he entered, the family said, and said they would wait “until Nancy gets home.” When the suspect wasn’t paying attention, Paul called 911. The family said Paul was home alone and was struck multiple times with a hammer in the head. When police arrived, the suspect said, “We’re waiting for Nancy.”

The suspect appears to run a website where he writes various posts on nearly every modern conspiracy idea: aliens, Jews, communism, vaccines, voter fraud and many other topics. Two law enforcement officials said earlier research into DePape’s online footprint showed that recent blog posts supported ideas typically associated with far-right extremism, as well as some liberal anti-establishment ideas.

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