A man was charged with attempted assault after attacking US Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee for New York governorat a campaign event in the Rochester suburb of Perinton, officials said.
David G. Jakubonis, 43, of Perinton, was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance, according to a news release from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
Zeldin, who was not hurt in the incident, was on stage giving a campaign speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8495 at 300 Macedon Center Road. Around 8 pm, the release said, Jakubonis climbed up on the stage, approached Zeldin and swung a weapon at the congressman’s neck, saying, “You’re done.”
Audience members and campaign staffers restrained Jakubonis until deputies led him away. Zeldin then finished his speech.
The event was billed as Zeldin’s first stop on a four-day “Unite to Fire Hochul” bus tour.
Video posted online showed a brief but potentially dangerous encounter during his speech.
Zeldin had been on a small stage in front of supporters railing against Hochul’s COVID-19 response and vaccine mandates. He started comparing New York to other states, such as Texas and Florida, saying residents there are “feeling safer there, they’re living life freer,” when a man in gray T-shirt walked on the stage and grabbed Zeldin by the arm , according to a video posted on Facebook.
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Zeldin appeared to resist but the man pulled him down to the stage floor, the video shows. Others quickly helped free the congressman and help him back to his feet.
The campaign said Zeldin “grabbed the attacker’s wrist to stop him” until others took the attacked to the ground.
Zeldin’s campaign used the episode to reinforce his argument that New York is increasingly unsafe under Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state,” Katie Vincentz, a spokesperson for Zeldin, said in a statement. “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.”
Hochul’s campaign deferred to a statement she made on Twitter after the attack: “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 possible terms — it has no place in New York.”