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Pelosi attacker had other targets and acted alone in ‘suicide mission,’ court filings reveal

Illustration of David DePape in court in San Francisco on Nov. 1, 2022 | Vicki Behringer

The man who prosecutors allege tried to kill Nancy Pelosi’s husband and kidnap her was planning to target other politicians and acted alone on a “suicide mission,” according to new court filings. 

The San Francisco Superior Court filings include new details of events inside the Pelosi home and the motivation behind the attack, which was one of several he planned for politicians.   

“I came here to have a little chat with his wife,” the defendant told paramedics after his arrest, about Paul Pelosi. “I didn’t really want to hurt him, but you know, this was a suicide mission. I’m not going to stand here and do nothing, even if it costs me my life. […] I’m sick of the insane f— level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.”

On Oct. 28, David DePape was arrested by San Francisco police after they responded to the Pelosis' Pacific Heights home. DePape awoke Mr. Pelosi from slumber, and asked for “Nancy.” 

When asked why he wanted to speak with Mrs. Pelosi, DePape said he wanted to speak to the second in line for the presidency. 

“Well she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” DePape said, adding that “they are all corrupt, and we’ve got to take them all out.”

DePape allegedly attacked Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with a hammer on Oct. 28, 2022. | Michael Short/SF Chronicle via Getty Images

“When asked if he had any other plans, the defendant named several targets, including a local professor, several prominent state and federal politicians, and relatives of those state and federal politicians,” the filing said. “The defendant also described other persons who served as his targets. But the defendant repeated, nothing would stop him.”  

The names of those targets were not included in the filings, which were filed by the District Attorney’s Office to justify its request for detention without bail. 

The political nature of the attack was reiterated in the filing as well. 

“He forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the third person in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” the filing said. If both the current president and vice president were to die or be killed in office, the speaker of the House would be the next in line to become the U.S. president.

The filings also give new details about the tense moments inside the home when DePape and Mr. Pelosi awaited the police. 

DePape said that he knew he might be caught, as there were so many cameras in the neighborhood, and that he was surprised that Mr. Pelosi didn’t hear him breaking into the house, as he made so much noise.

Once inside, he went to Pelosi’s bedroom. After DePape discovered that the speaker of the House was not in the home, Mr. Pelosi was able to call 911. While Mr. Pelosi spoke to the dispatcher, DePape told the dispatcher his name and that he was a “friend of theirs.” But Mr. Pelosi said he did not know the man, and that DePape wanted him to get off the phone. 

When the call ended, DePape walked Mr. Pelosi downstairs to where he had a bag with a “whole bunch of stuff inside.”  

When DePape said that police would arrive soon, Mr. Pelosi tried to reassure him. 

“I can take you out,” said DePape when discussing the impending arrival of police. 

When Mr. Pelosi calmly opened the door to police, DePape calmly told police, “Everything's good,” as he stood in the dimly lit doorway with Pelosi. Police saw that both men were holding the hammer when they shined a flashlight at them. 

“Drop the hammer,” an officer said. 

DePape responded, “Um, nope,” and tried to pull the hammer away. Soon after DePape took control of the hammer, struck Pelosi in the head and was then tackled by police. 

Pelosi’s injuries were also further revealed in the filings: He had a skull fracture, and serious injuries to his right hand and arm. 

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at