Paul Pelosi’s smart move during home invasion may have saved his life

The husband of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a secret call to 911 after coming face-to-face with an intruder who had entered his house in a move police say probably saved his life.

US media are reporting sources describing how Paul Pelosi surreptitiously called police after saying he needed to use the bathroom where his phone was charging.

Mr Pelosi secretly left the line open while the assailant David DePape, 42, was in the house.

While in danger, TMZ reports Mr Pelosi rattled off three questions to  DePape who had broken into the back door of the four-bedroom home in the upmarket San Fransisco neighbourhood of Pacific Heights.

“What’s going on? Why are you here? What are you doing to me?” asked 82-year-old Mr Pelosi, speaking in code.

The phone operator was able to read between the lines of the conversation and, intuiting that something was terribly wrong, called police dispatch with an emergency message.

“He states there is a male in the home and that he is going to wait for his wife,” said the operator.

“He stated that he doesn’t know who the male is but that his name is David and that he is a friend. He sounded somewhat confused.”

When officers arrived they found Mr Pelosi and the suspect struggling over a hammer which the intruder yanked from Mr Pelosi and used to beat him.

Police tackled and disarmed DePepe and Mr Pelosi was taken to hospital where her underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.

Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins praised Mr Pelosi’s quick thinking, telling CNN: “It is really thanks to Mr. Pelosi having the ability to be able to make that call and truly the attention and instincts of that dispatcher to realize that something was wrong and to make the police call a priority.”

He said officers were able to reach the scene in two minutes at about 2.30am.

Francisco Police Chief William Scott confirmed the emergency dispatcher had been “able to read between the lines” and the intuition was “lifesaving”.

DePape broke into the couple’s home, searching for the Democratic leader and shouting, “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”

The assault on the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi injected new uneasiness into the nation’s already toxic political climate, just 11 days before congressional midterm elections.

It carried chilling echoes of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol when rioters chanted menacingly for the Speaker as they rampaged through the halls trying to halt certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.

DePape was arrested on charges of attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary.

The Pelosi home in San Fransisco. Photo: Getty

President Joe Biden called Speaker Pelosi with support and later delivered a full-throated condemnation of the “despicable” attack that he said had no place in America.

“There’s too much violence, political violence. Too much hatred. Too much vitriol,” Mr Biden said at a Democratic rally in Pennsylvania.

“What makes us think it’s not going to corrode the political climate? Enough is enough is enough.”

Paul Pelosi and Nancy Pelosi at the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Photo: Getty

Lawmakers from both parties condemned the assault.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer branded the attack “a dastardly act”, while Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was “horrified and disgusted”.

The nation’s political rhetoric has become increasingly alarming, with ominous threats to lawmakers at an all-time high.

Congressional leaders are provided 24-hour security, and increasingly more other members receive police protection.

Chief Scott said the intruder smashed through glass-panelled doors to enter the home in upscale Pacific Heights.

Police are yet to determine a motive, but the suspect appears to have made racist and often rambling posts online, including some that echoed QAnon conspiracy theories.

DePape, who lives in the Bay Area town of Berkeley, also wrote posts questioning the results of the 2020 election and defending Donald Trump.

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

Threats against Republican and Democratic lawmakers have risen. In 2021, Capitol Police investigated about 9600 threats against members of Congress, nearly a threefold increase from 2017.

As a Democratic leader, Speaker Pelosi, 82, is a frequent target of Republican criticism, and her home has been the scene of several protests in the past few years.

Paul Pelosi, who owns a real estate and venture capital firm, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence charges related to a May crash in California’s wine country and was sentenced to five days in jail and three years’ probation.

-with AAP

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