Man who attacked GOP candidate Lee Zeldin charged with assault


A man has been charged with attempted assault after he brandished a sharp object and attacked U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin as the Republican candidate for governor of New York gave a speech in western New York. The incident occurred Thursday as Zeldin, who is challenging the incumbent Democratic governor. Kathy Hochul last November, was applying to a Veterans of Foreign Wars position in the town of Perinton, outside Rochester. The forward took to a low stage where the congressman addressed a crowd of dozens, flanked by bales of hay and American flags. Zeldin said at a Syracuse-area press conference on Friday that he saw the man from his outskirts on stage. “The first thing I saw was he was wearing a hat that said he was a veteran,” he said. “And my guard couldn’t be lowered any more.” But at the same time, I noticed that he had a gun in his hand. “He said the man was telling him, ‘You’re done.’ This was not a normal situation and action had to be taken,” he said as he reached for the congressman. Photos of the object suggested it was a keychain meant to be worn on the knuckles for self-defense.Those at the rally restrained the assailant, identified as David Jakubonis, and he was arrested. Among those who subdued him was Zeldin’s running mate, former New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito. It’s unclear if he has an attorney who can speak for him. A message seeking comment was left at a number listed for Jakubonis.Jakubonis is an Army veteran who was deployed to Iraq in 2009 as a medical lab technician. Zeldin said he was grateful to all those who rushed to help. He finished his remarks after Jakubonis was my intimidated, saying on Friday that it was important “not to be intimidated”. He said Zeldin had private security for the Perinton event but would start having increased security. In a statement, Hochul condemned the attack and said she was “relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured.” President Joe Biden also denounced the incident and said it “challenges our core democratic values.” “As I have said before, violence has absolutely no place in our society or our politics. I am particularly grateful for the courage of those who immediately intervened, that he is unharmed and that he was able to continue his speech,” the president said in a statement. Republican New York State Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy called on Hochul to release a security detail. for Zeldin to protect him during the election campaign. Hochul’s publicist, Avi Small, referred questions about 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 Congress since 2015, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the congressional Republicans who voted against certification. of the 2020 election results. He has focused his campaign on calling for a crackdown on crime, but faces an uphill battle against Hochul. He will have to persuade independent voters – who outnumber Republicans in the state – as well as Democrats to win the general election. Zeldin and his fellow Republicans pointed to the release of Jakubonis by a Perinton city court judge as an example of the need to reform New York’s bail laws, something he called on Hochul to toughen up. . The law gives judges the ability to set bail in almost all cases involving violent crimes, but provides exceptions for certain attempted crimes such as attempted assault. limits on possession of weapons. Amid calls from Republicans and some Democrats to toughen the law, Hochul this year signed a measure allowing someone to be held on bail for hate crimes and other gun offenses, and gives judges more discretion to decide on bail if a person faces multiple charges. Judges setting bail must also consider factors such as an individual’s history of firearm use, whether they are charged with causing “serious harm” and whether they violated a protective order. the judge had no choice but to release him on his own recognizance. , Chris Megerian in Washington and news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

A man has been charged with attempted assault after he brandished a sharp object and attacked U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin as the Republican candidate for governor of New York gave a speech in western New York.

The incident occurred Thursday as Zeldin, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul in November, was addressing a Veterans of Foreign Wars station in the town of Perinton, outside Rochester.

The forward took to a low stage where the congressman addressed a crowd of dozens, flanked by bales of hay and American flags.

Zeldin said at a Syracuse-area press conference on Friday that he saw the man from his outskirts on stage.

“The first thing I saw was he was wearing a hat that said he was a veteran,” he said. “And my guard couldn’t be lowered any more.” But at the same time, I noticed that he had a gun in his hand.

He said the man was telling him, “It’s over,” for him.

“And obviously at this point, whatever is on your hat, it was not a normal situation and action had to be taken,” he said.

Videos recorded by people in the audience showed the man approaching Zeldin and trying to grab him, bringing a sharp object shaped like a cat’s head towards Zeldin’s neck as he reached for the member of Congress. Photos of the object suggested it was a key ring intended to be worn on the knuckles for self-defense.

Those present at the rally restrained the attacker, identified as David Jakubonis, and he was arrested. Among those who overpowered him was Zeldin’s running mate, former New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito.

Jakubonis, 43, was charged with attempted second-degree assault, arraigned and later released, a Monroe County sheriff’s spokesperson said. It is unclear if he has a lawyer who can speak for him. A message requesting comment was left at a number listed for Jakubonis.

Jakubonis is an Army veteran who deployed to Iraq in 2009 as a medical lab technician.

Zeldin said he was grateful to everyone who rushed to help. He ended his remarks after Jakubonis was overpowered, saying on Friday it was important “not to be intimidated”.

Jacob Murphy, a spokesman for Zeldin’s congressional office, said Zeldin suffered a minor scratch from the incident. He said Zeldin had private security for the Perinton event but would start having increased security.

In a statement, Hochul condemned the attack and said she was “relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured.”

President Joe Biden also denounced the incident and said it “challenges our core democratic values.”

“As I have said before, violence has absolutely no place in our society or our politics. I am particularly grateful for the courage of those who immediately intervened, that he is unharmed and that he was able to continue his speech,” the president said in a statement.

Republican New York State Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy called on Hochul to issue a security detail for Zeldin to protect him during the campaign trail.

Hochul’s publicist, Avi Small, referred questions about 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 Congress since 2015, is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and was among the congressional Republicans who voted against certification. results of the 2020 elections.

He has focused his campaign on calling for a crackdown on crime, but faces an uphill battle against Hochul. He will have to persuade independent voters – who outnumber Republicans in the state – as well as Democrats in order to win the general election.

Zeldin and his fellow Republicans cited the release of Jakubonis by a Perinton City Court judge as an example of the need to reform New York’s bail laws, something he called on Hochul to toughen.

A 2019 bail reform law in New York eliminated pretrial incarceration for those charged with most nonviolent offenses. The law gives judges the ability to set bail in almost all cases involving violent crimes, but provides exceptions for certain attempted crimes such as attempted assault.

Judges must also consider a person’s ability to post bail and weigh the imposition of other conditions such as travel restrictions, electronic surveillance or limits on possession of weapons.

Amid calls from Republicans and some Democrats to toughen the law, Hochul this year signed a measure allowing someone to be held on bail for hate crimes and other gun offenses, and gives judges more discretion to decide on bail if a person faces multiple charges. Judges setting bail must also consider factors such as an individual’s history of firearms use, whether they are charged with causing “serious harm” and whether they have violated a protective order.

Perinton City Court senior clerk Betsy Wager said under state law: ‘The judge had no choice but to release him on his own.

Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on whether she was considering further changes to state bail laws.

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Associated Press reporters Marina Villeneuve in Albany, Karen Matthews in New York, Chris Megerian in Washington and news researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.

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