The man accused of attacking the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer told police he also planned to target several other politicians as part of a “suicide mission,” according to court documents filed Tuesday.
David DePape, 42, was arrested last week after he allegedly broke into the couple’s mansion intending to tie up Pelosi and break her kneecaps, but found only her 82-year-old husband.
He was ordered to be held in custody after he pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges during his arraignment Tuesday at a San Francisco court.
In new court filings, state prosecutors said DePape told police he was sick of “lies coming out of Washington” and had “named several targets, including a local professor, several prominent state and federal politicians” as well as their relatives.
“I didn’t really want to hurt him, but you know this was a suicide mission,” DePape allegedly told officers at the scene of his arrest, referring to Paul Pelosi.
“I’m not going to stand here and do nothing even if it cost me my life.”
According to the state prosecutors’ filing, DePape startled Paul Pelosi awake from his bed in the early hours of Friday, holding a hammer and several plastic zip ties.
He told Paul Pelosi he had come to find Nancy Pelosi because she is “number two in line for the presidency,” and “we’ve got to take them all out.”
Pelosi was able to call the police and open the mansion’s front door when officers arrived, before DePape struck him in the head with the hammer, leaving him bloodied and unconscious for three minutes, court documents said.
“This case demands detention. Nothing less,” prosecutors wrote.
DePape wore orange jail clothes and spoke only to answer procedural questions during the brief appearance, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
His arm was in a sling, which his lawyer said was a result of an injury he sustained during arrest.
The story of the attack quickly metastasized into a political litmus test in the highly divided United States.
Liberals blasted the dangerous coarsening of public discourse and the willing perpetuation of falsehoods by mainstream Republicans that has seen Nancy Pelosi cast as a figure of hate on the right, and a legitimate target for real-life violence.
Swathes of the conservative media ecosystem, meanwhile, set about questioning the narrative around the attack with lurid and unproven allegations.
New Twitter boss Elon Musk was among those who helped spread the misinformation after tweeting a link to a speculative opinion piece by an outlet with a history of unreliability.
Speaking outside the courthouse, DePape’s court-appointed lawyer Adam Lipson said the defense team would be looking into the swirling untruths that may have influenced his client.
“There’s also been a lot of speculation regarding Mr. DePape’s vulnerability to misinformation and that is certainly something that we are going to look into,” he told reporters.
“We are going to be doing a comprehensive investigation of what happened,” he said, adding: “We’re going to be looking into Mr. DePape’s mental state.”
In an earlier court affidavit filed Monday, the FBI said DePape intended to hold Pelosi – who is second in line to the US presidency after the vice president – 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,’” the affidavit said.
Nancy Pelosi was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack.
Following the attack, Paul Pelosi was sent to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.
Late Monday Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying her husband faced “a long recovery process.”
The suspect faces charges on both a state and a federal level.
DePape faces state charges of attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder, and threats to a public official and their family.
Federal authorities on Monday charged DePape with attempting to kidnap a US official and assaulting her family member.