House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Saturday her husband was improving at a hospital, but that the attack on him by an intruder at the couple's California home left her and her family "heartbroken and traumatized."
Pelosi updated house members on the chilling incident in a letter to House colleagues that represented her first public remarks on the violence that happened early Friday.
The speaker said she was grateful for the quick police and medical response to a 911 call from her husband, whom she called "Pop."
"Yesterday morning, a violent man broke into our family home, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul," she wrote in the letter. "Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatized by the life-threatening attack on our Pop."
San Francisco police said David DePape, 42, who faces charges that include attempted murder, broke into the home occupied at the time only by Paul Pelosi and confronted him, ending with a tug-of-war over a hammer.
Officers entering the home saw the two locked in that battle and told them to drop the weapon, police said. As Pelosi released his grip, the suspect yanked it and then struck Pelosi in the head, they said.
Pelosi, 82, was rushed to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he “underwent successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands," Nancy Pelosi's office said in a statement Friday.
In the letter, Pelosi said, "The outpouring of prayers and warm wishes from so many in the Congress is a comfort to our family and is helping Paul make progress with his recovery."
"His condition continues to improve," she added.
Two sources told NBC News the intruder was searching for the speaker, who was in Washington, D.C. Her U.S. Capitol Police security detail is assigned to Pelosi and not to family members or permanent locations such as her primary residence in San Francisco.
The sources, one of whom is a senior U.S. official, said that before the assault occurred, the intruder confronted Paul Pelosi shouting, “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”
The attack, a motive for which remained under investigation, came within two months of warnings from lawmakers that political violence was likely in the weeks and days ahead of November’s midterm elections.
A family member who was traveling with Pelosi as she returned to California on Saturday said suspect DePape brought the hammer and broke windows facing the property’s backyard before confronting Paul Pelosi.
The suspect allegedly tried to tie up Paul Pelosi, saying they would await the speaker’s return, the family member said. Paul seized a moment of inattention from the attacker to dial 911, police said.
San Francisco Police Department Chief Bill Scott indicated that not much was spoken during the 911 call made by Paul Pelosi on Friday, but he praised a keen dispatcher for sensing a serious emergency was afoot.
Calls to 911 without content, such as hangups and open lines, are normally dispatched as low priority welfare checks, Scott said during an interview Saturday. Often, they involve children playing with a phone or otherwise accidental calls.
Dispatcher Heather Grives had pushed the Pelosi 911 call Friday as a priority, and officers Colby Willness and Kyle Cagney and Sgt. Edmund Hoeing arrived within three minutes, he said.
"Her actions, in my opinion resulted in both a higher priority dispatch and a faster police response," he said. "I think this was life saving."