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Pelosi attack suspect wanted to break House speaker’s kneecaps. Had gloves, rope, tape, 2nd hammer, Feds say

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, with her husband Paul Pelosi in Vatican City on June 29, 2022. | Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

New details of the violent hammer attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, emerged Monday as the suspect, David DePape, was charged with federal counts of assault and attempted kidnapping.

DePape planned to find the speaker on Friday and hold her hostage. If she told the "truth," he would release her, and if she "lied" he was going to break "her kneecaps," according to the federal complaint filed Monday. The suspect was certain that the speaker would not have told the "truth."

DePape said "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.

In an interview with Mr. Pelosi in the ambulance after the attack, the speaker’s husband told police that he was awoken in his bedroom by a man he did not know. That’s when DePape told Mr. Pelosi he wanted to talk to "Nancy."

DePape was wearing all black and appears to have broken into the Pelosi home through a glass side door. The suspect told police officers that he was tired from having had to carry a backpack to the Pelosi residence and that he wanted to tie Mr. Pelosi up so that he could go to sleep. Around this time, according to DePape, he started taking out twist ties from his pocket so that he could restrain Mr. Pelosi.

Mr. Pelosi moved toward another part of the house, according to the complaint, but DePape stopped him. While the two spoke, Mr. Pelosi went into a bathroom and called 911.

When police knocked on the door, they saw both Mr. Pelosi and DePape holding onto a hammer. DePape had his other hand on Mr. Pelosi’s forearm. When police asked them what was going on, DePape said, "everything is good." But when police told them both to drop the hammer, DePape got control of it and hit Mr. Pelosi in the head. The officers then tackled DePape as the victim fell to the ground, unconscious.

Once DePape was restrained, officers secured a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties from the crime scene, the federal complaint said.

An unnamed private security officer working at a nearby home witnessed someone clad in all black and carrying a large black bag walking near the Pelosi residence, according to the complaint. The witness described hearing what sounded like banging, followed by police sirens.

DePape, a Richmond resident, was living in a garage where law enforcement say they found a sword, two hammers and rubber gloves.

The suspect said that after Pelosi’s call to 911 he chose not to leave because "much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender." The complaint said he repeated that statement elsewhere during interviews with officials.

Update: San Francisco’s District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced her office will file six felony counts against DePape. He will be charged with attempted murder, burglary, false imprisonment, elder abuse, burglary, assault with a weapon and threatening the family member of an elected official.

“It unnerved me as a political figure in this city,” Jenkins said.

Update: Speaker Pelosi issued a brief statement late Friday afternoon thanking her supporters and the trauma team at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, noting that her husband "is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process."

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at