SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 28 (Reuters) – A man wielding a hammer attacked the husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a break-in at the couple’s San Francisco home early on Friday, authorities said, in an attack that raised fears of political violence before the Nov. 8 midterm 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, will be charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and several other criminal charges, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott said.
The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, who is second in the line of succession to the US president, was in Washington with her security unit at the time of the attack, the Capitol Police said.
Authorities said they were still investigating a motive for the early morning attack.
Citing a source, CNN reported that the attacker yelled “Where’s Nancy?” before the attack and told police he was “waiting for Nancy” when they arrived at the scene.
It was not clear how the intruder got into the three-story red brick townhouse in the affluent Pacific Heights neighborhood. Aerial photos showed broken glass in a door at the back 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 US House of Representatives and Senate is at stake.
Scott said police were dispatched to the house at 2:27 a.m. PT (09:27 GMT), where they encountered Depape and Paul Pelosi holding a hammer before Depape pulled the hammer and attacked Pelosi.
Police disarmed and arrested Depape and took both to the hospital for treatment, Scott said.
He declined to answer questions and said police would provide more details later.
Paul Pelosi was treated for bruises, 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.
President Joe Biden called Pelosi to express his support, according to White House spokeswoman Karina Jean-Pierre.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also said he had contacted Pelosi, while Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “appalled and appalled” by the attack.
The Capitol Police, responsible for protecting Congress, said it was cooperating with the FBI and San Francisco police in the investigation.
New York police warned Thursday that extremists could target politicians, political events and polling places ahead of the midterm elections.
Republicans are campaigning on concerns about violent crime, as well as inflation and other quality-of-life issues. San Francisco’s crime rate was 1.5 times the national average in 2021, according to several crime tracking websites.
The 82-year-old Pelosi, as a Democratic leader in Washington and a longtime representative of one of America’s most liberal cities, is a frequent target of Republican criticism and is often featured in attack ads.
Her office was robbed by supporters of Republican then-President Donald Trump during the attack on the US capital on January 6, 2021, with some chasing her during the attack.
In January 2021, her home was vandalized with graffiti reading “Rent Cancellation” and “We Want Everything” painted on the house and a pig’s head left outside the garage, according to media reports.
McConnell’s home was also vandalized at the time.
In a politically polarized climate, threats to Republican and Democratic lawmakers are on the rise. Capitol Police said they investigated 9,625 incidents in 2021, a nearly three-fold increase from 2017.
A gunman angered by Trump shot and wounded five Republican members of Congress at a baseball practice in 2017, and Democrat Gabby Giffords was shot in the head at a public appearance in 2011.
Paul Pelosi, owner of a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital firm, was convicted of a misdemeanor DUI after being involved in a crash in May. He was sentenced to five days in jail in Napa County, California.
Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien, Doina Chiacu, Rich McKay, Rami Ayyub, Tim Ahmann and Gram Slattery; Editing: Andy Sullivan, Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell
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