Attacker tries to stab NY GOP candidate for governor Rep. Lee Zeldin
NEW YORK - U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for New York governor, was attacked by a man who tried to stab him at an upstate event Thursday but managed to escape uninjured, he said
Zeldin was giving a speech when a man climbed onstage and appeared to begin wrestling with the congressman.
"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 tweeted.
New York GOP Chair Nick Langworthy told The Associated Press that he did not have any details on the attacker or his weapon but exchanged text messages with Zeldin afterward while the congressman was speaking to police.
"He is fine. He’s not seriously injured. It’s just a chaotic scene there," Langworthy said.
A video of the event in Perinton posted on Twitter showed the man appearing to grab Zeldin's arm and the two fell to the ground as other people tried to intervene.
"When he lifted his hand and he was lunging for my throat area, the first thought was to grab onto his wrist," Zeldin said at a press conference on Friday. "He was telling me you're done."
Zeldin said that at first, he did not think the man was a threat because he was wearing a U.S. Military veteran's hat. Zeldin, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel.
Zeldin's running mate Alison Esposito, a former NYPD Deputy Inspector, said that when 43-year-old David Jakubonis walked on stage, "It looked like he was going to fix something in the sound device, fix a problem."
Zeldin's campaign said that Jakubonis was taken into custody and the congressman continued his speech.
Jakubonis was charged with attempted assault for the incident last night and released. Zeldin says he was told Jakubonis was intoxicated and has mental health issues. He is criticizing the state's bail reform.
"I would argue they're doing a disservice to the person who attacked us on stage last night because they rushed, they have to by law, rush to get him released. Where's the help for him in that process," Zeldin said.
Zeldin, who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election results.
He is challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul this November.
"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," Gov. Hochul tweeted. "I condem this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible -- it has not place in New York."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.