A man has been charged with attempting to kidnap senior US politician Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband.
The 42-year-old is accused of breaking into the couple’s San Francisco home early on Friday and assaulting Paul Pelosi, 82, with a hammer.
He had been searching for the top Democrat and reportedly shouted “where is Nancy?” while inside the property.
But Mrs Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency, was on the other side of the country at the time.
The motive is being investigated but police say it was “not a random act”.
The Department of Justice charged the suspect, who has been named as David DePape, with two violations of federal law on Monday. These included one count of assaulting a family member of a US official in retaliation for the performance of their duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.
He is additionally charged with the attempted kidnap of Mrs Pelosi, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.
San Francisco’s district attorney Brooke Jenkins also brought six charges on Monday, including attempted murder and elder abuse, and added there may be further charges. The attack appears to be “politically motivated”, Brooke Jenkins said, and the suspect will face “parallel prosecutions”.
The suspect had a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer and zip ties in his possession when he was arrested, the justice department said. He had planned to hold Mrs Pelosi hostage and was going to break “her kneecaps” if she “lied” to him, according to court documents. He also told police that if Mrs Pelosi was injured, then she would have had to use a wheelchair to enter Congress, which would send a message to other politicians.
The 82-year-old was in Washington DC but flew back to see her husband in hospital, where he underwent successful surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his hands and right arm. The venture capitalist, who has been married to Mrs Pelosi since 1963. “Paul is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process,” Mrs Pelosi said in a statement on Monday evening.
He is being held in a San Francisco jail and will appear in court on Tuesday.
Officers were called to the couple’s home at 02:23 local time on Friday. Images of the four-bedroom property in the Pacific Heights neighbourhood showed the rear glass doors, where police say the intruder gained entry – had been shattered. Mr Pelosi later told police that he was asleep when the suspect, who he had never seen before, entered his bedroom. He told the intruder that he needed to use the bathroom then made a 911 call on his mobile phone.
Police later found Mr Pelosi and the suspect struggling over a hammer, but it was wrested from him by the intruder who violently assaulted him with it. The suspect was then tackled and disarmed by officers, while Mr Pelosi appeared to be unconscious on the ground.
The attack has raised fears of political violence less than two weeks before the midterm election on 8 November that will determine control of Congress.
Hours after the attack, the US government distributed a bulletin to law enforcement across the nation warning of a “heightened threat” of domestic violent extremism against candidates and election workers driven by individuals with “ideological grievances”.
A blog, website and social media accounts under the name of the suspect, contained anti-Semitic memes, Holocaust denial, references to far-right websites and conspiracy theories such as QAnon. He also posted debunked allegations of election fraud as well as a host of far-right and extremist talking points.