Early on the morning of October 28 2022, news appeared that the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was attacked at their residence by an individual with a hammer.
A post to Reddit’s r/WhitePeopleTwitter featured a tweet about the incident:
That post was titled “This is how it starts … and it is starting,” presumably a reference to escalating acts of stochastic violence. An Imgur screenshot of news about the attack at the Pelosi residence generated similar discussion, and the most upvoted comment speculated in similar fashion:
This is going to get worse, lets prepare legislation in advance. Voting rights, anti-corruption, anti-misinfo, anti gerrymandering laws ect.
House Speaker Pelosi is second in the Presidential line of succession (after Vice President Kamala Harris), and the attack took place less than two weeks before the November 8 2022 Midterm elections.
What would normally exist as “early reports” preserved in reporting instead became the basis of “liveblog” style coverage. News sites updated and revised early reports as additional information came to light.
A New York Times liveblog restructured the story to feature details at the top of the page, and analysis at the bottom. An early section of the coverage mentioned a sharp uptick in political violence and threats to lawmakers:
In the months since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which brought lawmakers and the vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives, Republicans and Democrats have faced stalking, armed visits to their homes, vandalism and assaults.
In the five years after President Donald J. Trump was elected in 2016 following a campaign featuring a remarkable level of violent language, the number of recorded threats against members of Congress increased more than tenfold, to 9,625 in 2021, according to figures from the Capitol Police, the federal law enforcement department that protects Congress.
In the first quarter of 2022, the latest period for which figures were available, the force opened 1,820 cases.
A “pinned” recap at the top of the page identified the suspect and summarized the incident:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently assaulted by a man who broke into the couple’s home in San Francisco early Friday morning [October 28 2022], the police said. The authorities identified the suspect as David Depape, 42, and said they were investigating a possible motive.
… The San Francisco Police responded to a break-in at the Pelosi residence at 2:27 a.m. on Friday [October 28 2022], Chief William Scott said in a news conference. The assailant, who pulled a hammer from Mr. Pelosi and “violently attacked” him in front of police officers, has been charged with attempted homicide, the chief said.
CNN’s coverage followed a similar structure, changing the headline as additional information emerged. Its recap began with details eerily similar to the early reports that appeared during the January 6 2021 Capitol insurrection:
The man who assaulted Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tried to tie him up “until Nancy got home,” according to two sources familiar with the situation. When the police arrived, the assailant was saying he was “waiting for Nancy.”
Paul Pelosi was attacked with a hammer at the couple’s home in San Francisco by a male assailant early Friday morning [October 28 2022], law enforcement sources told CNN. The assailant who attacked Paul Pelosi was searching for the speaker of the House, according to a source briefed on the attack. The intruder confronted the speaker’s husband in their San Francisco home shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” according to the source.
Pelosi, 82, was hospitalized but is expected to make a full recovery, the Democratic speaker’s office said in a statement.
After right-wing insurrectionists seized control of the chamber, several images and videos demonstrated many were armed with zip ties to restrain lawmakers. In our reporting, we excerpted a Slate.com article. It focused not just on the “flex cuffs” widely seen in footage, but additional information about the clear intent of the insurrectionists. Most notably, Pelosi was the primary example of specifically targeted individuals in the chamber:
Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face.
These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone.
CNN linked to a statement issued by Pelosi’s office on October 28 2022:
Washington, D.C. — Drew Hammill, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, issued this statement:
“Early this morning [October 28 2022], an assailant broke into the Pelosi residence in San Francisco and violently assaulted Mr. Pelosi. The assailant is in custody and the motivation for the attack is under investigation. Mr. Pelosi was taken to the hospital, where he is receiving excellent medical care and is expected to make a full recovery. The Speaker was not in San Francisco at the time.
“The Speaker and her family are grateful to the first responders and medical professionals involved, and request privacy at this time.”
CBS News reported that several branches of law enforcement jointly investigated the incident, adding that Capitol Police considered “additional protection for families of congressional leadership in response to the attack”:
U.S. Capitol Police are assisting the FBI and San Francisco Police Department with a joint investigation.
U.S. Capitol Police said special agents with their field office in California also arrived on scene quickly, and a team of investigators was dispatched from the East Coast to help the FBI and local police with a joint investigation.
A senior congressional source familiar with the matter tells CBS News U.S. Capitol Police is considering additional protection for families of congressional leadership in response to the attack on Paul Pelosi. Congressional leaders travel with multiple officers from the Capitol Police’s dignitary protection department, but their spouses and children do not, which is why there was no protection present when the assailant broke into the Pelosi residence Friday morning.
The Pelosis have been married since 1963, and have five children.
The top House Democrat will no longer attend an annual dinner Saturday [October 29 2022] for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., the organization confirmed. She was supposed to be a featured speaker.
Remarks made by Greene to a crowd of insurrectionists on January 6 2021 resurfaced after the attack on Paul Pelosi. In it, Greene asserted that “treason is punishable by death,” adding that “Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason”:
On the afternoon of October 28 2022, San Francisco police chief Bill Scott stated the suspected assailant had been charged with attempted homicide and other offenses:
Per CNN, the 42-year-old suspect arrested at Pelosi’s residence was demonstrably influenced by online conspiracy theories, in which Nancy Pelosi is a routine target. CNN reported that DePape’s page had been taken down by Facebook, but the s tory described its posts. They included “multiple videos produced by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell falsely alleging that the 2020 election was stolen,” as well as “transphobic images,” and “content about the ‘Great Reset’ – the sprawling conspiracy theory that global elites are using [the pandemic] to usher in a new world order in which they gain more power and oppress the masses.”