Man Who Broke into Pelosi House Faces Federal Charges
On 31 October, federal authorities announced charges they filed against the man who allegedly broke into U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco residence and assaulted her husband, Paul Pelosi. David Wayne DePape faces charges of assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties and attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties.
The incident occurred in the early morning of 28 October. Police responded to a 911 call from Paul Pelosi. When police arrived, they witnessed Pelosi and DePape struggling over a hammer. Officers ordered them to drop the hammer, at which point police say DePape gained control of the hammer and struck Pelosi in the head before officers subdued DePape.
Officers recovered another hammer, rubber and cloth gloves, white rope, a roll of tape, and zip ties from the crime scene.
“This incident highlights that prominent individuals and families must recognize they are vulnerable to targeted attacks by deranged individuals and must strongly consider all options to protect themselves and their families,” says Jerry Heying, CPP, PPS, CST, president and CEO of International Protection Group, LLC. Heying chairs the ASIS Executive Protection Community Steering Committee and was a major contributor to ASIS’s Essentials of Executive Protection Certificate course. “Considering their personal financial wherewithal, the cost to increase their protection is actually nominal.”
According to the affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, “Pelosi stated… [he] was asleep when DePape came into Pelosi’s bedroom and stated he wanted to talk to ‘Nancy.’ When Pelosi told him that Nancy was not there, DePape state that he would sit and wait. Pelosi stated that his wife would not be home for several days, and then DePape reiterated that he would wait. Pelosi was able to go into the bathroom, which is when he was able to call 911.”
Members of Congress have worried that the threats and harassment creeping into political discourse would lead to actual violence. The assault of Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, by an intruder who shouted "Where is Nancy?" seemed to confirm their worst fears. https://t.co/4qmx3w7tbR— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 29, 2022
The affidavit continues to describe the interview of DePape: “DePape stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break ‘her kneecaps.’ …DePape also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other members of Congress there were consequences to actions.” DePape also described Nancy Pelosi as the primary architect of lies being told by Democratic Party.
Paul Pelosi underwent surgery for a skull fracture over the weekend and sustained injuries to his hands and right arm, Reuters reported, noting that doctors expect a full recovery.
The Bay Area affiliate of NBC reported that the San Francisco District Attorney’s office “is expected to charge DePape with attempted murder and several other felonies.”
A Politico article said, “The attack also put a new focus on the lack of protection for family members of public officials. While members of leadership, including Pelosi, have a security detail that stays with them, that protection isn’t currently extended to their family members.” The article did note that the House sergeant-at-arms would cover up to $10,000 for security equipment at the homes of each lawmaker.
Heying advises all high-profile individuals to take the security of their loved ones seriously.
“The first step is to have an experienced security professional conduct a threat, vulnerabilities, and risk assessment which identifies the risk, and provides the steps to mitigate those risks,” he says. “This can be a combination of physical security measures, electronic measures, and possibly security personnel as may be needed at various times. The assessment will also take into consideration local crime and how it may impact a specific area, such as where the residence is located.”
The attack on the Pelosi house quickly spun up misinformation that spread quickly through right-wing circles, including controversies for new Twitter owner Elon Musk, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, and Donald Trump, Jr. Much of the false information is debunked in the affidavit, in which DePape told authorities he found Paul Pelosi asleep in bed.
In recent executive protection coverage in Security Management, Megan Gates wrote about developing a methodology to find and assess threats facing politicians, executives, and celebrities in an era where extreme views and threats online have become common. In addition, in a 2021 Security Management article, Heying discussed the unique protection challenges celebrities present.