SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 28 (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked by a man wielding a hammer when he broke into the couple’s home in San Francisco on Friday morning, sparking fears of political violence, authorities said. November 8 mid-term elections.
Her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, Pelosi’s office said.
The man arrested at the scene, 42-year-old David Depape, faces charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and several other charges, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said.
The Democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives, second in line to the US presidency, was in Washington with his protective detail at the time of the attack, according to Capitol Police.
Authorities said they are still investigating the cause of the early morning attack.
CNN quoted its source as saying that the assailant asked, “Where’s Nancy?” reported that he shouted. Before the attack, he told police he was “waiting for Nancy” when they arrived at the scene.
It is not known how the wealthy three-story redbrick town of Pacific Heights got into it. Aerial photos show broken glass in the back door of the house. Streets around the residence were closed Friday morning.
The attack comes less than two weeks before midterm elections in which control of the House of Representatives and the US Senate are at stake.
Police were dispatched to the home at 2:27 a.m. Pacific Time (0927 GMT), Scott said, where Depape and Paul Pelosi met before both grabbed a hammer and Depape grabbed the hammer and attacked Pelosi.
Police disarmed and arrested Depape and took both men to a hospital for treatment, Scott said.
He declined to answer questions, saying police would provide more details later.
Paul Pelosi is 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 familiar with the investigation.
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden called Pelosi to express his support.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also said he had contacted Pelosi, while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “horrified and disgusted” by the attack.
The Capitol Police, 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 may target politicians, political events and polling places ahead of the midterm elections.
Republicans have been campaigning on 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.
The 82-year-old Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic Party in Washington and a longtime representative of one of America’s most liberal cities, is often criticized by Republicans and is often featured in attack ads.
His office was ransacked during the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters of then-Republican President Donald Trump, some of whom hunted him during the attack.
In January 2021, his home was vandalized with graffiti that read, “Cancel the rent” and “We want everything,” and a pig’s head was left in front of the garage, according to media reports.
McConnell’s home was also vandalized at that time.
In a politically polarized climate, threats against both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have intensified. Capitol Police said they investigated 9,625 incidents in 2021, nearly triple the number in 2017.
A gunman angry at Trump shot and wounded five Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in 2017, and Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot in the head during a public appearance in 2011.
San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital firm Paul Pelosi was convicted of driving under the influence in May after a car accident. He was jailed for five days in Napa County, California.
Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Doina Chiaku, Rich McKay, Rami Ayoub, Tim Ahmann and Gram Slattery; Edited by Andy Sullivan, Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell
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