Suspect tells police he wanted to take Nancy Pelosi hostage and 'break her kneecaps'

David DePape pictured in 2013. Credit: AP

The man accused of attacking US house speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband told police he wanted to hold the Democratic leader hostage and “break her kneecaps," authorities said on Monday.

Federal prosecutors have filed two charges against David DePape, 42, days after he is alleged to have confronted Paul Pelosi while he was asleep in the couple's San Francisco bedroom early on Friday morning.

DePape faces one count of attempted kidnapping of a US official and is also charged federally with influencing, impeding or retaliating against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member.

Mr Pelosi remains in hospital in San Francisco, where he underwent urgent surgery for a fractured skull after being struck on the head with a hammer.

The Democratic leader’s 82-year-old husband also sustained serious injuries to his arms and hands.San Francisco's district attorney is set to announce state criminal charges as well against DePape.

Police say the suspect shouted out “Where is Nancy?” during the attack.

Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul Pelosi in 2019. Credit: AP

Depape was arrested on Friday on suspicion of attempted murder, elder abuse, and burglary, and is expected to be arraigned on state charges on Tuesday.

San Francisco's district attorney, Brooke Jenkins confirmed Depape was targeting the Democratic leader when he broke into the couple’s home.

“At the time that the suspect had entered the Pelosi home that he was in fact, looking for Ms. Pelosi,” Jenkins told reporters late Sunday in San Francisco.

“The other thing is we want to make it clear that there were only two people in the home at the time that the police arrived, Mr. Pelosi and the suspect, there was no third person present,” she said.

“We have nothing to suggest that these two men knew each other prior to this incident.”

The district attorney’s remarks come as the attack on the husband of the house speaker is being mocked and dismissed in conservative, far-right social media, even among some Republicans leaders and those at the highest levels of social power.

San Francisco’s police chief has also said the attack was targeted.

The former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, was among those making light of the attack on Mr Pelosi, tweeting out a joke about a Halloween costume of the incident.

A police officer stands outside the home of Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Credit: AP

Elon Musk over the weekend tweeted, then deleted, a fringe website’s far-flung conspiracy theories to his millions of followers, as his purchase of Twitter raised concerns that the social media platform would no longer seek to limit misinformation and hate speech.

In the toxic political climate, a week before the midterm elections, tensions are high with record security threats against lawmakers and other officials.

The attack was an echo of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, when rioters trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election defeat of Donald Trump stormed the halls shouting “Where’s Nancy?”

Ms Jenkins say DePape broke into the rear door. Police said they arrived to see the suspect and Mr Pelosi struggling over a hammer, and allege DePape struck Pelosi at least once before being tackled by officers.

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