Lee Zeldin, candidate for governor of New York, attacked while giving a speech

A man climbed onto the stage and tried to stab US Congressman Lee Zeldin on Thursday as he gave a speech during the New York gubernatorial election, the candidate and authorities said.

Zeldin, the Republican candidate, was unhurt and his attacker was arrested at a campaign stop in Fairport, NY, 15 kilometers east of Rochester in Western New York.

“His words when he tried to stab me hours ago were, ‘You’re done,'” the Republican politician tweeted, thanking attendees for helping confront the man, including including his partner, former deputy inspector of the New York Police Department Alison Esposito.

“I’m fine….Fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him momentarily until the others dealt with him.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect as David Jakubonis, 43, of Fairport. The motive is not clear.

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

Zeldin pushed the suspect away before both of them fell to the ground as several others tried to subdue the suspect.

Opponents of Hochul campaign condemn the attack

Jakubonis, who is charged with attempted second-degree assault, took the weapon in his hand and swung it towards Zeldin’s neck, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. Photos from the social network appear to show an object with at least two pointed ends.

Members of the audience and Zeldin’s advocacy group restrained Jakubonis until deputies arrived and arrested him, the statement said.

The suspect was settled at Perinton Town Court and released.

Zeldin campaign spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said Zeldin ended her speech following the incident and thanked law enforcement officers who responded to the attack.

“Glad to hear that Representative Zeldin was unhurt and the suspect is in custody,” tweeted incumbent New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat and Zeldin’s opponent in this race.

“I condemn this act of violence with the strongest possible terms – it has no place in New York.”

State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy has called on Hochul to issue a security detail to Zeldin to protect him on his campaign trail.

“This could have been so much worse. This could have really ended badly tonight and this is unacceptable,” he said.

A man is speaking in front of colored balloons.
Lee Zeldin was shown in Baldwin, NY, on June 28, the night he won the Republican primary for governor. Zeldin defeated multiple candidates including Andrew Giuliani, son of the former New York City mayor, to become his party’s nominee in the November general election. (Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images)

Avi Small, Hochul’s press secretary, referred the question of providing Zeldin with a security detail to the New York State Police.

Zeldin, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in the U.S. Congress since 2015, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and one of the Republicans in the National Assembly. The council voted against certifying the 2020 election results.

He has focused his campaign on fighting crime but faces an uphill battle against Hochul. He will need to convince independents – outnumber Republicans in the state – as well as Democrats to win the general election.

Democrats are expected to focus on Zeldin’s defense of Trump during both impeachments, as well as Zeldin’s opposition to the 2020 election results.

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