House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has faced verbal, written threats in the past

Pelosi appears to have been the intended target of an attack in her home.

October 29, 2022, 6:51 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband was violently assaulted in what police say was an intentional attack after an intruder broke into the couple's San Francisco home early Friday.

Paul Pelosi was beaten with a hammer and underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture, a representative said. The assailant may have been looking for the speaker herself, allegedly shouting "Where's Nancy?" before striking Paul Pelosi, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

"I don't know for certain but it looks like this was intended for Nancy. Kept asking, 'Where's Nancy? Where's Nancy?'" President Joe Biden told reporters Saturday.

The suspect -- 42-year-old David Depape -- was hospitalized with injuries and will be booked on charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and elderly abuse, police said. A motive has not been publicly revealed as the incident remains under investigation by multiple agencies.

PHOTO: In an aerial view, San Francisco police officers and F.B.I. agents gather in front of the home of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi  on Oct. 28, 2022 in San Francisco. Paul Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, was violently attacked in their home.
In an aerial view, San Francisco police officers and F.B.I. agents gather in front of the home of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 28, 2022 in San Francisco. Paul Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi, was violently attacked in their home by an intruder.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi -- who according to the Capitol Police was in Washington, D.C., with her protective detail at the time -- has been the target of several disturbing threats in recent years, as threats against members of Congress have been on the rise overall, police data shows.

Concerning statements and threats against members of Congress have more than doubled since 2017, to 9,625 cases in 2021, according to statistics from U.S. Capitol Police. In the first three months of this year alone, the U.S. Capitol Police opened roughly 1,820 cases over these types of threats.

Verbal and written threats against the speaker have resulted in several arrests and convictions in recent years.

Threatening text messages

A North Carolina man was arrested in the days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol after sending a text message that included a threat directed at Nancy Pelosi, according to the Department of Justice.

Cleveland Grover Meredith, 53, of Hayesville, was in Washington, D.C., to attend rallies when he sent a text message to a relative that said he was thinking about heading to Nancy Pelosi's speech and "putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV [purple devil emoji]," according to an indictment.

The relative contacted Meredith's mother, who then contacted the FBI, the DOJ said. He was arrested on Jan. 7, 2021, and the FBI found a semi-automatic firearm, an assault-style rifle with a telescopic sight and approximately 2,500 rounds of ammunition in his trailer, the DOJ said.

He pleaded guilty to interstate communication of threats on Sept. 10, 2021, and was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Weapons charges were dropped as part of the plea deal.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 30, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 30, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images, FILE

Threatening phone calls

This past spring, a Florida man admitted to making threatening phone calls to the speaker, as well as New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Paul Vernon Hoeffer, 60, of Palm Beach Gardens, pleaded guilty in April to threatening to behead the two congresswomen on separate calls. In March 2019, he called Nancy Pelosi's D.C. office and told a staff assistant to tell the speaker to "step down or I'm going to come a long, long way to rattle her head with bullets. That's a f------ promising," according to the plea agreement.

An hour later he called again and told a staff assistant to tell Nancy Pelosi, "I'm coming to cut her f------ head off," according to the plea agreement.

He again left a recorded message for Nancy Pelosi, warning her to "sleep with one eye open," according to the plea agreement.

Hoeffer was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Last year, an Arizona man was also convicted of threatening to kill Nancy Pelosi in phone calls to her D.C. office, according to the Justice Department.

Steven Arthur Martis, 77, of Bullhead City, was found guilty by a jury of one count of communicating an interstate threat in November 2021.

In a voicemail to Nancy Pelosi's office earlier that year, he threatened, "I'm coming to kill you [expletive], bye," then in a follow-up voicemail, said, "You're dead [expletive]," according to the DOJ.

He was sentenced to 21 months in prison in February, but is seeking to appeal, court records show.

ABC News' Trish Turner and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

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