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Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack was looking for wife Nancy in S.F. home, D.A. Jenkins confirms

San Francisco Chronicle 10/30/2022 By Nora Mishanec
At a news conference Sunday at Ocean Beach, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins confirmed that authorities have determined David DePape, the suspect in the violent attack Friday on Paul Pelosi, was looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he forced entry into the couple’s Pacific Heights home. © Hearst Newspapers

At a news conference Sunday at Ocean Beach, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins confirmed that authorities have determined David DePape, the suspect in the violent attack Friday on Paul Pelosi, was looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he forced entry into the couple’s Pacific Heights home.

UPDATE: Paul Pelosi attack suspect David DePape expected to face federal criminal charges.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins on Sunday confirmed that authorities have determined David DePape, the suspect in the violent attack Friday on Paul Pelosi, was looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he forced entry into the couple’s Pacific Heights home.

Jenkins’ statement confirmed previous media reports, based on unnamed sources, that DePape entered the home and confronted the speaker’s husband shouting, “Where is Nancy?”

In a brief news conference at Ocean Beach, Jenkins dismissed conspiracy theories that have circulated in the days after Friday’s violent attack on Paul Pelosi, which include one promoted in a tweet Sunday by new Twitter owner Elon Musk that went viral before it was subsequently deleted.

Jenkins offered few new details about the attack and instead said she sought to “clear up distortions” that have emerged on social media.

The arriving officers determined “there were only two people in the home at the time of the incident,” Jenkins said. “There was no third person present. We have nothing to suggest that the two men knew each other prior to this incident.”

Jenkins said “it was a forced entry to the rear door of the home” and “he ultimately made his way upstairs, where he confronted Mr. Pelosi.”

Officials have said Paul Pelosi, 82, managed to contact authorities with a surreptitious 911 call.

When they arrived, police said they saw the two men struggle over a hammer, with which DePape struck Pelosi at least once.

Paul Pelosi was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right harm and hands, the speaker’s office said. He is expected to recover.

DePape, 42, was arrested at the scene. Jenkins said she expects to file charges Monday for attempted murder, residential burglary, elder abuse and assault, with an enhancement for a “hot prowl” allegation, which involves entering a home while someone is present.

Jenkins said DePape remained locked in a secure ward at San Francisco General Hospital on Sunday. She did not comment on his mental health and would not say whether he was in the hospital for psychiatric treatment.

He is expected to be arraigned Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court. She said she expects her office will recommend that DePape be held in custody without bail.

DePape had zip ties with him, the Associated Press reported Sunday, citing an anonymous source who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to publicly discuss the Pelosi case. During the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, people were heard shouting “Where’s Nancy?” and some were seen inside the Capitol carrying zip ties.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said Saturday that online conspiracies were inciting people to violence, and that politicians like himself and Speaker Pelosi have become targets.

DePape had filled websites with such theories along with bigoted screeds directed at people of color, women, Jewish people and others.

Musk amplified one such baseless theory Sunday on Twitter, three days after completing his $44 billion purchase of the social media company.

He was responding to a tweet Saturday by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, apparently in reference to the attack on Paul Pelosi, saying “The Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories. It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result. As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow.”

Musk responded Sunday with a tweet that said, “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” and posted a link to an unfounded anti-LGBTQ article about Pelosi and DePape in the Santa Monica Observer, a fringe website.

The message was retweeted more than 30,000 times and liked more than 110,000 times before being deleted a few hours later.

Far-right commentators, and the article promoted by Musk, have seized on an audio recording of a San Francisco dispatcher relaying information about the intruder from Pelosi’s 911 call. The dispatcher said the caller “stated that he doesn’t know who the male is but he advised that his name is David and that he is a friend.”

The dispatcher was relaying that DePape — not Paul Pelosi — had “advised that his name is David and that he is a friend.”

DePape’s former partner, nude activist Oxane “Gypsy” Taub, revealed more details about the suspect in an interview with The Chronicle Sunday.

Speaking from the California Institution For Women in Corona (Riverside County), where she is serving a prison sentence in the attempted abduction of a 14-year-old boy near his Berkeley high school, said that mental illness and drug use had caused him to deteriorate profoundly.

She said she and DePape had a 15-year relationship and raised their two sons and her daughter together. Taub said DePape’s drug use and mental health issues began in 2009 when the couple broke up for more than a year.

“He has never been able to hold a job,” Taub said. “He has been homeless. This person really does suffer from mental illness and that is probably why he was there at 2 a.m.”

Nora Mishanec is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: nora.mishanec@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @NMishanec

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