A 43-year-old man has been charged with attempted assault after he jumped on stage with New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin and allegedly tried to stab him.
The attack took place as Zeldin was giving a speech on bail reform in New York state to a local VFW in the town of Perinton.
The assailant, who some reports indicate was wearing an Iraq War veteran hat and was potentially inebriated at the time, walked toward Zeldin on stage and announced, “Okay, you’re done.”
Initial reports indicate the suspect pulled out a knife during the scary altercation before quickly being subdued by Marine Corps combat veteran Joe Chenelly.
Authorities later recovered a device that resembled brass knuckles with sharp blades similar to those marketed for self-defense on military websites, and there was no evidence of a knife.
Zeldin was not injured during the alleged assault.
There was an assassination attempt on @leezeldin today.
Thank God he is ok.pic.twitter.com/uGJywqKs7f
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) July 22, 2022
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Lee Zeldin Assault
A statement from the campaign by spokeswoman Katie Vincentz shortly after the attack indicated Zeldin and lieutenant governor nominee Alison Esposito were safe.
Zeldin made his own statement as well.
“Thank you to everyone who reached out following tonight’s attack in Fairport,” he said. “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.”
Vincentz lamented, “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.”
The GOP gubernatorial candidate, commenting on New York’s bail reform policies, noted, “This suspect will likely be right back out on the street immediately.”
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.
Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes.
The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws. pic.twitter.com/wZEyIyrjFe
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) July 22, 2022
And wouldn’t you know it, Zeldin pegged it perfectly.
The suspect, identified as Fairport resident David Jakubonis, has been charged by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department with attempted assault in the Second Degree.
The department revealed that as he was telling the candidate “you’re done,” he “swung his weapon toward Zeldin’s neck.”
And yet, the suspect was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance hours later.
A lunatic leftist attempted to assassinate Republican Lee Zeldin, who is running for Governor of New York… don’t wait up for any Democrat to denounce it.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) July 22, 2022
Zeldin’s Campaign Blames Governor Hochul
Despite signs indicating the assailant was drunk at the time of the assault on Lee Zeldin, the New York state Republican Party issued a statement leveling some blame at the feet of Governor Kathy Hochul.
They pointed to a schedule of Zeldin events released by Hochul that reporter Zack Fink described as “very unusual” because of it’s use of “Democratic talking points about Trump.”
In the media advisory, Hochul’s team mocks the agenda and repeatedly refers to Zeldin and his colleagues as “far-right extremists.”
Very unusual advisory from @KathyHochul ⬇️ just now, basically making fun of @leezeldin by mocking his campaign schedule this weekend and replacing his events with Democratic talking points about Trump.
— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) July 21, 2022
The NYGOP wrote: “It’s not a coincidence that just hours earlier, Kathy Hochul fanned the flames of hate by directing her supporters to his rally schedule.”
“This is unacceptable conduct for anyone, let alone a sitting governor,” they continued. “It’s not enough to condemn the attack, she must apologize and tone down her hateful rhetoric immediately.”
There is no evidence the suspect was motivated by the rally schedule or any commentary made by Hochul.
Hochul, meanwhile, did condemn the incident “in the strongest terms possible.”
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.
— Kathy Hochul (@KathyHochul) July 22, 2022
Hochul released an ad last month calling Zeldin “too extreme” for New York and described him as “dangerous.”
You gonna denounce your own rhetoric that caused this?https://t.co/jaWxJYGxw5
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) July 22, 2022
Zeldin, in announcing his candidacy for governor, pointed to many issues that need reform in the state of New York.
“The New York that was once a magnet for the world’s best and brightest is now forcing its own to leave under the crushing weight of skyrocketing taxes, lost jobs, suffocating regulations, and rising crime resulting from dangerously liberal policies,” he said at the time.
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