Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack was in U.S. illegally, immigration officials say

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WASHINGTON — The suspect who violently assaulted Paul Pelosi with a hammer last week was in the U.S. illegally, immigration officials confirm.

David DePape, 42, was in the country on an expired temporary visitor visa from Canada, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has asked San Francisco County to hand DePape over to the agency, meaning that DePape could eventually be deported back to Canada. If he is convicted of crimes against Pelosi, he would complete his sentence first.

Records show DePape entered the U.S. in March 2008 at San Ysidro as a temporary visitor. Admissible Canadian travelers who present themselves as a visitor for business or pleasure generally don’t require a visa and are generally admitted for six months in the U.S.

He faces a series of state charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment and threatening a public official. He also has been charged at the federal level with attempted kidnapping and assault with intent to retaliate against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member. 

For the state charges, he could face 13 years to life in prison if he is convicted and the federal charges carry a maximum of 50 years in prison.

Investigators say DePape broke into San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul on a mission to hold her hostage and break her kneecaps. DePape confronted Pelosi’s husband Paul and asked, “where is Nancy?” — who was in Washington, D.C., at the time — before attacking him with a hammer, authorities said. Pelosi, 82, underwent surgery that day to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.

The suspect appears to have operated a website on which he wrote a wide variety of posts touching on almost all manner of modern conspiracy thinking: aliens, Jewish people, communism, vaccines, voter fraud and many other topics. Two law enforcement officials said an early look at DePape’s online footprint showed recent blog posts that espoused ideas typically associated with far-right extremism, along with some liberal anti-establishment ideas.

Law enforcement determined Saturday that DePape had been living for the last two years in the garage of a residence in Richmond, just outside San Francisco. In the garage, “among other things, agents seized two hammers, a sword, and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves,” the complaint said.



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