Last Updated on July 22, 2022
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is currently running for Governor of New York, was attacked on stage during a campaign event on Thursday evening. The would-be assassin was quickly arrested and charged with a felony, but he was soon released without bail.
The suspect, identified as David G. Jakubonis, 43 of Fairport, N.Y., was charged with attempted assault in the second degree. He was booked after charging the stage and attempting to stab Lee Zeldin with a “sharp object.”
He was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance, the sheriff’s department said in a statement.
Lee Zeldin had predicted that the attacker would be released without bail. The gubernatorial hopeful, who was unharmed, continued his speech after Jakubonis was taken into custody.
“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,” he tweeted early Friday. “Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes. The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws.”
Lee Zeldin was giving a speech about New York’s “bail reform” policies at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post when the would-be assassin charged the stage. He was immediately tackled AMVETS national Director Joe Chenelly, according to Fox News.
“His right hand came up, I assume out of his pocket, and he had a blade on his hand,” Chenelly told Fox News Digital. “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.”
Zeldin released a statement after the attack in which he thanked law enforcement and assured supporters that he was safe.
“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,” Zeldin wrote. 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.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul has deployed false and divisive rhetoric in her quest to fend off Zeldin’s challenge this November. The incumbent Governor has frequently referred to her challenger as a “far-right extremist.”