The man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home, beating her husband and seeking to kidnap her told police he was on a "suicide mission" and had plans to target other California and federal politicians, according to a Tuesday court filing.
David DePape was ordered held without bail during his arraignment Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court. His public defender entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf. It was the first public appearance since the early Friday attack for DePape, a fringe activist drawn to conspiracy theories.
In the court filing, prosecutors detailed the attack in stark terms as part of their bid to keep DePape behind bars. Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious by the hammer attack and woke up in a pool of his own blood, the filing said.
DePape's intent "could not have been clearer," San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins wrote in the filing. "He forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her. Thwarted by Speaker Pelosi's absence, Defendant continued on his quest and would not be stopped, culminating on the near fatal attack on Mr. Pelosi."
Without being questioned, DePape told officers and medics at the scene that he was sick of the "lies coming out of Washington D.C.," the filing said. "I didn't really want to hurt him, but you know this was a suicide mission. I'm not going to stand here and do nothing even if it cost me my life."
DePape allegedly said he had other targets, including a local professor as well as several prominent state and federal politicians –- and members of their families. The filing did not name any potential targets.
"This case demands detention," Jenkins wrote. "Nothing less."
Wearing orange jail clothing, DePape only spoke to tell Judge Diane Northway how to pronounce his last name (dih-PAP'). The 42-year-old defendant, whose shoulder was dislocated during his arrest, is scheduled to return to court Friday.
After the hearing, DePape's public defender Adam Lipson said he looks forward to providing DePape with a "vigorous legal defense."
"We're going to be doing a comprehensive investigation of what happened. We're going to be looking into Mr. DePape's mental state, and I'm not going to talk any further about that until I have more information," Lipson said.
He later said he was pleased that Paul Pelosi was improving and urged the public not to pass judgment on what he called "a complicated situation."
The attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi sent shockwaves through the political world just days before the hotly contested midterm elections. Threats against lawmakers and elections officials have been at all-time highs in this first nationwide election since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, and authorities have issued warnings about rising extremism in the U.S.
DePape faces state charges of attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He also faces federal charges including attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official. Those charges are outlined in an affidavit detailing the assault, which was largely captured on police body camera imagery after authorities responded to a 911 call from the Pelosis' Pacific Heights home.
Jenkins' filing said while Paul Pelosi was on the phone with the 911 operator, DePape was gesturing and telling him to hang up. Pelosi then told the dispatcher that he did not need police, fire or medical assistance but he instead asked "for the Capitol Police because they are usually at the house protecting his wife."
Moments later the dispatcher heard him interacting with a man and Paul Pelosi said "Uh, he thinks everything's good. Uh, I've got a problem, but he thinks everything's good."
Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members. She quickly returned to San Francisco, where her husband was hospitalised and underwent surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries.
In Washington, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger provided a sobering update Tuesday of security protocols for members of Congress.
Manger said that although many improvements have been made since the Capitol attack, including the hiring of nearly 280 officers by the end of this year, "there is still a lot of work to do."
"We believe today's political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for members of Congress," he said
Manger said the attack on Pelosi's husband was "an alarming reminder of the dangerous threats elected officials and public figures face during today's contentious political climate."