New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin was attacked by an unhinged man at a campaign event with some sort of sharp weapon who was then was tackled by event goers before being arrested, charged with a felony, and released.
The attack happened on Thursday as Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) was speaking. The man walked up onto the stage with the weapon in hand, grabbed Zeldin, and pulled him down while appearing to tell him, “You’re done, you’re done.”
People subdued the man as attendee Cody Crippen videoed the incident. Spectrum News reporter Nick Reisman would go on to share the viral video on Twitter.
The Republican candidate “grabbed the attacker’s wrist to stop him until several others assisted in taking the attacker down to the ground,” according to Zeldin’s campaign. Zeldin is reportedly unharmed and his campaign staff “are safe.”
“Congressman Zeldin, Alison Esposito and all members of Team Zeldin are safe following tonight’s attack. Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state. Unfortunately, Congressman Zeldin is just the latest New Yorker whose life has been affected by the out of control crime and violence in New York. This needs to stop! Thankfully, we still have exceptional men and women in law enforcement answering the call to protect our streets,” Katie Vincentz, a spokesperson for the gubernatorial campaign, said according to Fox News.
“Thank you to everyone who reached out following tonight’s attack in Fairport. Someone tried to stab me on stage during this evening’s rally, but fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him. I’m ok, and @EspositoforNY, and all other attendees are safe. The attacker is in custody. Grateful for the attendees who stepped up quickly to assist and the law enforcement officers who quickly responded. I’m as resolute as ever to do my part to make NY safe again,” Zeldin declared.
One of the men who tackled the attacker said he “lunged” at the congressman with a blade in his hand during the campaign stop in Perinton, New York, according to Fox News.
Joe Chenelly, who is the national director for AMVETS, told Fox News Digital that the alleged attacker came through the crowd about 15 minutes into Zeldin’s speech and was “stumbling” as he walked up to the stage.
When the alleged attacker approached the stage, Chenelly said he “wasn’t sure if he was coming up to hug the congressman or yell at him or argue with him.”
Chenelly noted that Zeldin was able to block the man from striking him with the blade.
“His right hand came up, I assume out of his pocket, and he had a blade on his hand. His fingers were like two finger holes in the blade and lunged at the congressman. And Congressman Zeldin blocked the first lunge. And then as he tried to lunge again, I grabbed him from behind and tackled him down to the ground and held him on the ground,” he recounted.
A number of people joined Chenelly in restraining the man who still had the weapon in his hand. Zip ties were used to restrain the man’s arms and legs.
Following the encounter, the congressman got back up on stage and finished the rally.
Chenelly commented that the alleged attacker was “mostly incoherent” and “kind of yelling.” He remarked that the man seemed to have come to the event “with intent to cause harm to the congressman.”
The attacker was reportedly wearing a United States Marine Corps T-shirt and claimed that he had fought in Iraq. Chenelly asserted that the man did not appear to be mentally stable.
“He said that he was an Iraq veteran… and that really struck me,” Chenelly stated. “And I know the mental health crisis that has really gripped the veterans’ community. I don’t want this to become some crazy veteran story, but it definitely struck me. And so, you know, while he was still standing there, I told him that he’s going to get through this. The situation he’s going to, you know, deal with what he’s done tonight. You know, once he’s done, I want him to reach out to me. We’ll make sure that you get the services that you need.”
Zeldin predicted that his attacker would be released under New York’s cashless bail and lax criminal laws. He was right. The man was let go within hours after being arrested and charged according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
“His words as he tried to stab me a few hours ago were ‘you’re done’, but several attendees, including @EspositoforNY, quickly jumped into action & tackled the guy,” Zeldin tweeted early Friday. “Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes. The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws.”
The suspect, who is identified as David G. Jakubonis, 43 of Fairport, NY, was charged with attempted assault in the second degree.
According to the sheriff’s department, he was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and then shockingly released on his own recognizance.
Zeldin’s Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, condemned the attack and expressed relief that Zeldin was okay.
“My team has informed me about the incident at Lee Zeldin’s campaign event tonight. Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody. I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York,” she lamely tweeted.
Considering Democrats are behind the very laws that released the deranged attacker, her words ring extremely hollow.