‘Heartbroken and traumatized’: Nancy Pelosi responds to violent attack on her husband

A man and woman at church.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with her husband, Paul, at a Vatican Mass in June.
(Stefano Costantino / SOPA Images)

In her first public statement about the brutal attack on her husband — in which she was the intended target — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her congressional colleagues that she and her family were “heartbroken and traumatized” by Friday’s events.

“Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack on our Pop,” Pelosi said in the statement, which was addressed to members of the U.S. House of Representatives. “We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services, and for the lifesaving medical care he is receiving.”

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Early Friday, an intruder broke into the Pelosis’ hillside home in San Francisco’s exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Authorities said David DePape, 42, attacked 82-year-old Paul Pelosi with a hammer after shouting, “Where is Nancy?” multiple times. Police arrived on the scene after being alerted by a call from Paul Pelosi, who managed to conceal the call from his attacker.

Nancy Pelosi was in Washington at the time but has since returned to California to be with her husband, according to news reports.

The House speaker referred briefly to the attacker in her statement.

“Yesterday morning, a violent man broke into our family home, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband, Paul,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi also thanked those who expressed concern and sympathy.

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“Please know that the outpouring of prayers and warm wishes from so many in the Congress is a comfort to our family and is helping Paul make progress with his recovery,” she said. “His condition continues to improve.”

In her statement, Pelosi quoted from the Bible:

“We are also comforted by the words of the Book of Isaiah: ‘Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’”

For the record:

9:55 p.m. Oct. 29, 2022A previous version of this article misspelled the last name of 911 dispatcher Heather Grives as Grimes.

According to official accounts, Paul Pelosi told the intruder he had to use the bathroom, then made a surreptitious 911 call on his cellphone and left the line open. Dispatcher Heather Grives could hear Pelosi talking to his attacker and alerted officers to the scene.

At a news conference Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott praised Grives’ quick thinking, given that Pelosi was unable to describe the gravity of the situation because the intruder was close at hand.

“She had to interpret what she was being told,” Scott said at the news conference. “And based on her experience and intuition, she basically figured out that there was something more to this incident than what she was being told.”

Police arrived at the Pelosi residence about two minutes after being alerted by the dispatcher.

When officers knocked on the front door, Scott said, someone inside opened it. The officers saw Paul Pelosi struggling with his attacker, “each with one hand on a single hammer,” he said.

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After officers ordered both men to drop the hammer, the attacker “immediately” pulled the tool from Pelosi and “violently attacked him with the hammer,” Scott said.

Police tackled the assailant, grabbed the hammer and took him into custody before calling for backup and beginning first aid.

A source who was briefed on the attack said the assailant confronted Paul Pelosi and shouted, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” before the assault occurred.

DePape was booked Friday afternoon on suspicion of attempted murder, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, threatening a family member of a public official, elder abuse, battery with serious bodily injury, dissuading a witness and injuring a wireless device.

The attack is being viewed as evidence that the rising tide of harsh political rhetoric is escalating into violence.

A Times review of DePape’s online accounts indicates he had been drifting into the world of far-right conspiracies, antisemitism and hate.

In a personal blog that DePape maintained, posts include such topics as “Manipulation of History,” “Holohoax” and “It’s OK to be white.” He mentioned 4chan, a favorite message board of the far right. He posted videos about conspiracies involving COVID-19 vaccines and about baseless claims that the war in Ukraine is a ploy for Jewish people to buy land.

Among DePape’s screeds were posts about QAnon, an unfounded theory that former President Trump is at war with a cabal of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring and control the world.

Paul Pelosi is recovering from surgery at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital “to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi’s office. He is expected to make a full recovery.

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