The man who allegedly attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband early Friday posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, and an acquaintance told CNN that he seemed “out of touch with reality.”
David DePape, 42, was identified by police Friday as the suspect in the assault on Paul Pelosi at the speaker’s San Francisco home.
Three of DePape’s relatives told CNN that DePape has been estranged from his family for years, and confirmed that the Facebook account – which was taken down by the social media company on Friday – belonged to him.
His stepfather, Gene DePape, said David DePape grew up in Powell River, British Columbia, and left Canada about 20 years ago to pursue a relationship that brought him to California.
“I really don’t know what to think,” the suspect’s uncle, Mark DePape, said of his nephew’s alleged attack on Pelosi. “Hopefully it’s a scam. I don’t want to hear something like that.”
People who knew DePape in California described him as an odd character.
A 2013 article in the San Francisco Chronicle identified him as a “hemp jewelry maker,” and said that he lived with a nudist activist. Other photos published by the Chronicle show DePape – fully clothed – at a nude wedding on the steps of San Francisco City Hall.
Linda Schneider, a California resident, told CNN she got to know DePape roughly eight years ago and that he occasionally housesat for her. When they met, she said, DePape was living in a storage unit in the Berkeley area and told her he had been struggling with hard drugs but was “trying to create a new life for himself.”
She said that he was extremely shy. “He said he couldn’t even go and have a bank account because he was terrified of speaking to a teller,” Schneider said.
But Schneider later received “really disturbing” emails from DePape in which he sounded like a “megalomaniac and so out of touch with reality,” she said. She said she stopped communicating with him “because it seemed so dangerous,” adding that she recalled him “using Biblical justification to do harm.”
DePape’s social media presence similarly paints a picture of someone on a worrying trajectory, falling into conspiracy theories in recent years.
Last year, David DePape posted links on his Facebook page to multiple videos produced by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell falsely alleging that the 2020 election was stolen. Other posts included transphobic images and linked to websites claiming Covid vaccines were deadly. “The death rates being promoted are what ever ‘THEY’ want to be promoted as the death rate,” one post read.
DePape also posted links to YouTube videos with titles like “Democrat FARCE Commission to Investigate January 6th Capitol Riot COLLAPSES in Congress!!!” and “Global Elites Plan To Take Control Of YOUR Money! (Revealed)”
Two days after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd, DePape wrote that the trial was “a modern lynching,” falsely indicating that Floyd died of a drug overdose.
He also posted content about the “Great Reset”– the sprawling conspiracy theory that global elites are using coronavirus to usher in a new world order in which they gain more power and oppress the masses. And he complained that politicians making promises to try to win votes “are offering you bribes in exchange for your further enslavement.”
Most of the public posts on DePape’s Facebook page were from 2021. In earlier years, DePape also posted long screeds about religion, including claims that “Jesus is the anti christ.” None of the public posts appeared to mention Pelosi.
Blogs show images of Pelosi, Qanon and antisemitism
More recently, two other blogs written by someone with the username “daviddepape” have posted content similar to that on DePape’s Facebook page.
In a string of posts on a Wordpress.com blog over the course of several days in August 2022, the author complained about big tech censorship and posted statements like “Hitlery did nothing wrong.” The site has since been taken offline.
And another blog, also attributed to “daviddepape,” featured antisemitic screeds and content linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory. One video posted on the site includes a shot of Pelosi swinging a gavel during one of former President Donald Trump’s impeachments, and another video includes an image of Pelosi and other politicians. A third video includes a clip of Pelosi speaking on the House floor.
Other posts from the last few weeks featured videos accusing LGBTQ people of “grooming” children, and declared that “any journalist saying” there is no evidence of election fraud “should be dragged straight out into the street and shot.” The most recent post – linking to a YouTube video comparing colleges to cults – went up the day before the Pelosi attack.
CNN was not able to confirm that the two blogs were written by DePape.
Another former acquaintance of DePape’s also told CNN he exhibited concerning behavior over the years.
Laura Hayes, who also lives in California, said she worked with DePape for a few months roughly a decade ago making hemp bracelets when he was living in a storage shed in the Berkeley area. She said DePape sold the bracelets as a business.
“He was very odd. He didn’t make eye contact very well,” Hayes said. She recalled him saying that “he talks to angels and there will be a hard time coming.” But she didn’t remember any seriously threatening comments, and said she didn’t think much of it because “it’s Berkeley,” a place where eccentric characters aren’t uncommon.
Hayes, who was Facebook friends with DePape, called his more recent posts “so phobic in so many ways” and filled with “so much anger.”