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Monday, November 28, 2022

Paul Pelosi beating suspect grew up in B.C., sister says she’s ‘deeply saddened’ by attack

The twin sister of the Canadian-raised man accused of severely beating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer in the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday says she hadn’t seen her brother in nearly two decades.

Police were called to the home of the Democratic leader and her husband to check on Paul Pelosi around 2:30 a.m. when they discovered the 82-year-old and the suspect, 42-year-old David Depape, both grabbing onto the hammer, said Police Chief William Scott.

The intruder yanked it from Pelosi and began beating him before being subdued and arrested by officers.

Paul Pelosi was severely beaten, suffering blunt force trauma after he was struck several times in the head. He was admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for his injuries, the hospital confirmed. His condition was not immediately available, but Pelosi’s spokesman has said he would recover.

Depape spent his youth in Powell River, B.C., and finished high school in Armstrong, a small city in the province’s Interior.

David Depape is shown in Berkeley, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Forty-two-year-old David DePape was arrested on charges of attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary, police said.

Reached by the Star, his twin sister, Joanne Robinson, said Friday she was “deeply saddened” by what is alleged to have transpired.

“Deeply saddened by his actions but he hasn’t been in touch with me for pretty much 20 years,” said Robinson who lives overseas, in a messenger chat.

Stepfather Gene DePape said the suspect had lived with him in Canada until he was 14 and had been a quiet boy.

“David was never violent that I seen and was never in any trouble although he was very reclusive and played too much video games,” Gene DePape said.

He said he hasn’t seen his stepson since 2003 and tried to get in touch with him several times over the years without success.

The Associated Press further reported that the accused appears to have made racist and often rambling posts online, including some that questioned the results of the 2020 election, defended former President Donald Trump and echoed QAnon conspiracy theories.

DePape was known in Berkeley as a pro-nudity activist who had picketed naked at protests against local ordinances requiring people to be clothed in public.

Gene DePape said the girlfriend whom his son followed to California was named Gypsy and they had two children together. DePape also has a child with a different woman, his stepfather said.

Photographs published by The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday identified DePape nude outside city hall with dozens of others at the 2013 wedding of pro-nudity activist Gypsy Taub, who was marrying another man. Taub did not respond Friday to calls or emails.

A 2013 article in The Chronicle described David DePape as a “hemp jewelry maker” who lived in a Victorian flat in Berkeley with Taub, who hosted a talk show on local public-access TV called “Uncensored 9/11,” in which she appeared naked and pushed conspiracy theories that the 2001 terrorist attacks were “an inside job.”

A pair of web blogs posted in recent months online under the name David DePape contained rants about technology, aliens, communists, religious minorities, transexuals and global elites.

An Aug. 24 entry titled “Q,” displayed a scatological collection of memes that included photos of the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and made reference to QAnon, the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory that espouses the belief that the country is run by a deep state cabal of child sex traffickers, satanic pedophiles and baby-eating cannibals.

The exterior of Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center is pictured where Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was being treated in San Francisco on Friday.

“Big Brother has deemed doing your own research as a thought crime,” read a post that appeared to blend references to QAnon with George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

In an Aug. 25 entry titled “Gun Rights,” the poster wrote: “You no longer have rights. Your basic human rights hinder Big Brothers ability to enslave and control you in a complete and totalizing way.”

The web hosting service WordPress removed one of the sites Friday afternoon for violating its terms of service.

On a different site, someone posting under DePape’s name repeated false claims about COVID vaccines and wearing masks, questioned whether climate change is real and displayed an illustration of a zombified Hillary Clinton dining on human flesh.

There appeared to be no direct posts about Pelosi, but there were entries defending former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper formally known as Kayne West who recently made antisemitic comments.

In a Sept. 27 post, the writer said any journalists who denied Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election “should be dragged straight out into the street and shot.”

The intruder’s shouts in Pelosi’s California home were an unsettling echo of the chants during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, when rioters trying to stop Joe Biden’s election searched menacingly through the halls for the Speaker. Police said a motive for Friday’s intrusion was still being determined, but three people with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that Depape targeted Pelosi’s home.

Members of Congress have received additional dollars for security, but some have pushed for yet more protection as people have shown up at their homes and as members have received an increasing number of threatening communications. Nancy Pelosi, who is second in line of succession to the president, has a protective detail that was in Washington with her. She’d just returned this week from a security conference in Europe.

The Speaker had been scheduled Friday to appear with Vice-President Kamala Harris at a fundraising event Saturday night for the LGBTQ group Human Rights Campaign, 11 days before congressional elections that have been filled with harsh, sometimes violent rhetoric. Pelosi cancelled her appearance.

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