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San Francisco police officers and F.B.I. agents gather in front of the home of Nancy Pelosi on Oct. 28.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The man accused of breaking into U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home and allegedly attacking her husband Paul with a hammer split an antisocial adolescence between a remote mill town on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast and rural parts of the province’s North Okanagan.

David Wayne dePape faces several charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told reporters that an intruder severely beat Mr. Pelosi, 82, with a hammer in the morning around 2:30 a.m. while searching for the Democratic leader and shouting: “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”

Ms. Pelosi was in Washington when the attacker threatened her husband’s life and demanded to see the political leader, her spokesperson said. Mr. Pelosi, who was struggling with the suspect when police arrived, was taken to a local hospital where he had surgery for a skull fracture and “serious injuries” to his right arm and hands, but he is expected to make a “full recovery,” Drew Hammill told reporters.

Police gave few details about the suspect and did not share what may have motivated him, but his online presence points to an active support for radical alt-right theories.

Shortly after high school he followed his twin sister to Hawaii, where he fell in love with a woman, eventually “following her” to the San Francisco Bay Area and estranging himself from most of his Canadian family, his stepfather Gene dePape told The Globe and Mail Friday afternoon.

Politicians from both of the major political parties in the U.S. lined up to condemn the attack Friday.

U.S. President Joe Biden called Ms. Pelosi after he heard the news, the White House said, adding that Mr. Biden was “praying” for Paul Pelosi. On Twitter, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said he was “horrified and disgusted” to learn of the attack.

Politics have become increasingly volatile in the U.S. in recent years, with seemingly regular outbreaks of violence. Seven men were recently convicted of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 amid widespread anger on the right over her pandemic stay-at-home policies. Other politicians and elections officials across the country have reported receiving death threats – and sometimes people showing up at their houses – particularly after the 2020 election, which former president Donald Trump and many of his supporters continue to falsely claim was rigged.

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David dePape allegedly attacked Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer.Michael Short/The Associated Press

Gary dePape, Gene dePape’s brother, said he remembers David as a quiet and introspective child who had trouble connecting to others growing up in his remote hometown of Powell River.

Gene dePape said his stepdaughter embraced hunting and fishing trips across the awesome expanse of ocean and wilderness, but her twin brother, David, always preferred staying inside and wrapping his hands around a video game controller.

“She’d say, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!’ and ‘David, come, let’s go!’” he recalled. “He’d say, ‘No, I don’t want to, I just want to play my games.’”

When the couple split, Gene’s ex-wife moved with her twin children to Armstrong, B.C., a 70-minute drive north of Kelowna in the Okanagan region. Gene dePape said David soon returned to live with him on the coast and spent his high-school years in Powell River before returning to Armstrong in Grade 12, where he graduated from Pleasant Valley Senior Secondary School in 1998.

He returned to B.C. briefly after that initial stint in Hawaii before moving to California and staying there to raise his one child with Gypsy Taub – the woman David met in Hawaii – and her two other children, Gene dePape said.

Gene dePape said he has only had a handful of conversations with his stepson over the past two decades. He said the last time he tried to call David, Ms. Taub answered and told him to stop reaching out.

David dePape began a personal blog in 2007, posting about topics such as modern-day spirituality and the natural psychedelic ibogaine. After a long hiatus, he recently began reposting a string of conspiracy theories there and on social media, ranging from COVID-19 vaccines being deadly to claims by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell that falsely allege the Democrats stole the 2020 U.S. federal election.

That descent into alt-right politics echoes a recent conversation 42-year-old David dePape had with his grandmother that ended with a heated discussion of her Catholicism and his fervid support for Donald Trump, according to Gene dePape.

“He started in on her about some stuff and politics and everything else,” Mr. dePape told The Globe.

Ms. Taub has long been a conspiracy theorist. According to a 2013 SFGate story on her public nudity activism, she was convinced that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were “an inside job.” She started a public-access talk show to discuss this, the website reported, which then evolved into a current affairs show in which she and her guests were all naked.

Ms. Taub, whose legal first name is Oxane, was convicted last year of stalking and trying to kidnap a 14-year-old boy. She is currently imprisoned at the California Institution for Women.

The 2013 SFGate story identified Mr. dePape as a friend of Ms. Taub’s, who was living with her and her fiancé and acting as a “father figure” to her three children. The website said Mr. dePape earned his living making hemp jewellery and was set to serve as best man at Ms. Taub’s wedding, which was planned to be done nude on the steps of San Francisco city hall.

Gene dePape cleared a lump in his throat before expressing his biggest concern right now is for the grandchild he has never met.

“I wish it was different.”

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