Man tries to stab New York governor candidate Zeldin on stage

July 22, 2022 - 5:43 PM
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Lee Zeldin attack
A group of people, attending Congressman Lee Zeldin's stump speech, gather around, what the photographer says was the attacker, after an alleged attack on Zeldin during his stump speech, in Fairport, New York, United States, July 21, 2022. (Ian Winner/Handout via Reuters)
  • Congressman pushes away attacker trying to stab him
  • Politician thanks attendees who came to his help
  • Assailant told him: ‘you’re done’
  • Man charged with second degree assault

A man climbed on stage and tried to stab U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin on Thursday as he gave a speech in his run for New York governor, the candidate and authorities said.

Zeldin was unhurt and his attacker arrested.

“His words as he tried to stab me a few hours ago were ‘you’re done’,” the Republican politician tweeted, thanking attendees including fellow politician Alison Esposito for help.

“I’m ok… fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him.”

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect as David Jakubonis, 43, of Fairport. The motive was unclear.

Video footage posted on social media by witnesses showed a man wearing a black baseball cap quickly approach Zeldin from the side of the stage at the rally in upstate New York.

Zeldin pushed the suspect away before both men tumbled to the ground as several others tried to subdue the suspect.

“Political scores should be settled at the ballot box, not on stage at campaign events trying to violently attack candidates you disagree with. This is not ok,” said Zeldin, who represents New York’s 1st Congressional District.

Assault charge

Jakubonis, who is charged with second degree attempted assault, had a weapon in his hand and swung it towards Zeldin’s neck, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Members of the audience and Zeldin’s campaign team restrained Jakubonis until deputies arrived and took him into custody, the statement added. The suspect was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance.

A spokesperson for Zeldin’s campaign, Katie Vincentz, said Zeldin finished his speech following the incident and thanked law enforcement officers who responded to the attack.

“Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody,” tweeted incumbent New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat and Zeldin’s opponent in the race.

“I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York,” Hochul said.

Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Tim Ahmann, John Stonestreet and Andrew Cawthorne