The man who allegedly attacked U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband early Friday posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about COVID-19 vaccines, the 2020 election and the Jan. 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.
Two of DePape’s relatives told CNN that DePape is estranged from his family, 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, B.C., 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.”
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-19 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.
Two former acquaintances of DePape’s in California told CNN he exhibited concerning behaviour over the years.
Linda Schneider said 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.”
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.”
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.”
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