By The Tablet Staff
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, was attacked on the campaign trail by a man who lunged at him with a sharp object Thursday.
The suspect, identified by authorities as David G. Jakubonis, 43, of Fairport, New York, was subdued by Zeldin and others and taken into custody. He was charged with felony second-degree attempted assault, but was released on his own recognizance within hours of the incident.
Zeldin, 42, who has blasted New York’s bail reform laws, predicted that the suspect would be released quickly. In a statement issued shortly after the attack, Zeldin said, “This suspect will likely be back out on the street immediately.”
Zeldin was not injured in the incident, which took place as he was standing on a flatbed truck delivering a campaign speech on bail reform outside a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Perinton, a village outside Rochester.
Jakubonis approached Zeldin from the right, telling him repeatedly, “You’re done,” and grabbed the candidate’s arm while holding the weapon, authorities said. Zeldin managed to grab Jakubonis’s wrist. Others then jumped in and subdued him.
Video of the incident shows Jakubonis holding in his hand what appears to be brass knuckles in the shape of a cat’s face with sharp ears.
“Someone tried to stab me onstage 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 said.
Nick Langworthy, chairman of the New York State Republican Party, and Alison Esposito, running for lieutenant governor as Zeldin’s running mate, were among the people tackling Jakubonis, according to reports. Esposito is a former NYPD deputy inspector.
Zeldin, who has frequently spoken out about rising crime in his campaign, indicated that he would not let the attack deter him.
“I’m as resolute as ever to do my part to make New York safe again,” he said in his statement.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who Zeldin is running against, issued a statement.
“I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York,” she said.