The suspect accused of violently attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband early Friday appeared to have far-reaching and at times contradictory political positions, according to an early dive into his background.
While a motive for the attack against 82-year-old Paul Pelosi was unclear Friday evening, a picture of the suspect, identified by San Francisco police as 42-year-old David DePape, began to emerge.
Blog posts that are being investigated in connection with DePape describe someone with sprawling and contradictory views, multiple senior law enforcement officials familiar with the case told NBC News. The posts take aspects of liberal anti-establishment ideas to more recent posts that espouse positions typically associated with far-right extremism, the sources said.
He appeared to operate a website on which he wrote a wide variety of posts touching on almost all manner of modern conspiracy thinking: aliens, Jewish people, communism, vaccines, voter fraud and many other topics.
Many of the posts were published in the last few months.
A look at the man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi
David DePape, the man accused of violently attacking the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi early Friday was searching for her, police said.Blog posts that are being investigated in connection with DePape, 42, highlight sprawling and contradictory views, officials familiar with the case said. A website that appeared to be linked to DePape touched on almost all manner of modern conspiracy thinking, including aliens, Jewish people, communism, vaccines and voter fraud.DePape was booked in the county jail on recommended charges of attempted homicide, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary.
The website, which was registered under “david depape” and to a ZIP code in the Bay Area, according to registration records, did not mention Nancy Pelosi.
Inti Gonzalez, 21, identified herself in a phone call Friday as DePape’s daughter. She said she wrote in a blog post that her mother kicked DePape out when she was 13 because of alleged “toxic” behavior.
Gonzalez wrote that she and DePape remained estranged until a few months ago when she reached out to him to see how he was doing.
“This attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband came as a shock to me,” she wrote. “I didn’t see this coming.”
She said that she had read his website but did not agree with all of his views.
“It made me happy to see that he had strong opinions about important issues that our world is facing today,” Gonzalez wrote. “He wanted to make a difference.”
“There is some part of him that is a good person even though he has been very consumed by darkness.”
A motive in Friday’s attack remains unclear, and DePape had expressed sometimes conflicting political opinions.
Police Chief William Scott said during a Friday news conference that officers arrived at the Pelosi home for a well-being check shortly before 2:30 a.m. PT. Police then witnessed an attack on Paul Pelosi. Both DePape and Paul Pelosi held a hammer moments before a violent confrontation, Scott said.
“The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it,” he said. “Our officers immediately tackled the suspect, disarmed him, took him into custody, requested emergency backup and rendered medical aid.”
Paul Pelosi underwent successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands, Drew Hammill, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said in a Friday afternoon statement.
“His doctors expect a full recovery,” Hammill said.
DePape remained in the hospital Friday evening, the police chief said.
The House speaker was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack, according to her office. U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that Nancy Pelosi was in Washington, D.C., with her protective detail at the time of the break-in.
Sources told NBC News that before the assault occurred, the intruder confronted Paul Pelosi shouting, “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” One of the sources, a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter, added that the investigation is still developing.
A family member traveling to San Francisco with the speaker said the suspect brought the hammer and broke the windows of the Pelosi home facing the backyard. The family member said once inside, the suspect was trying to tie up Paul Pelosi and said they would wait “until Nancy got home.” When the suspect wasn’t looking, Paul Pelosi called 911. The family member said he was home alone and was hit in the head with the hammer multiple times. When the police arrived, the suspect said, “We are waiting for Nancy.”
Paul Pelosi did not have a security detail. Spouses of top lawmakers are not granted one because they are not U.S. Capitol Police protectees.
DePape was booked in the county jail on recommended charges of attempted homicide, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary, according to jail records. It was unclear Friday if he had retained an attorney. His relatives could not be reached for comment.
The FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. Capitol Police and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office are assisting local police in the investigation, Scott said.
Several people who identified themselves as FBI agents arrived at another Berkeley home Friday afternoon and could be heard saying they were there voluntarily and asking about DePape.
A man who appeared to live at the home said DePape hadn’t lived there in 10 years and declined to talk to the agents.
He declined to answer questions about DePape, and the apparent agents also declined to discuss why they were there.
A Berkeley resident on Friday said she last saw DePape at a neighboring home two weeks ago. He was near a school bus parked in front of the home.
Trish, 32, said DePape lived for a time in the school bus and in a second school bus parked in the home’s driveway that advertises “natural addiction treatment.”
She said he appeared to be part of a “hippy collective” that stays at the home.
A sign that said “Black Lives Matter” could be seen hanging in a window at the home. In the front yard, a flag with a marijuana leaf and the colors of the pride flag was draped from a tree.
Trish said that people who stay in the home were unlike “any other happy-go-lucky, peace, love and friendship hippies. They’re aggressive and they’re mean and they start problems for no reason.”
She said that people in the house regularly accused her and her partner of plotting to break into their home or steal from them. She said one allegation happened on Christmas Eve a few years ago, when she said an officer knocked on her apartment door.
The officer said authorities had been told that someone in her home was planning to steal a guitar from the neighbor, she recalled.
“I invited the officer inside and I said, ‘look around — we’re watching “The Christmas Story,” there’s a ham in the oven, everyone’s falling asleep. It’s Christmas.”
She said the officer apologized and left.
A man who identified himself only as a resident of the house linked to DePape said that someone at his home called authorities after someone at Trish’s home was overheard discussing stealing music equipment.
“It was probably dumb, drunk talk and they probably weren’t that serious about it,” he said. “But there was a report made.”
eHe disputed Trish’s characterization of the people in the home.