New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin was attacked onstage by a man with a weapon as he was giving a speech to supporters in Upstate New York, according to his campaign, but he managed to escape uninjured.
Zeldin, a U.S. Representative for Long Island, was at an even in Monroe County Thursday evening when a man climbed onstage and appeared to begin wrestling with the congressman, a campaign spokesperson said.
A video of the event in Fairport 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. Zeldin’s campaign said that the man tried to stab the candidate, but was unable to after Zeldin grabbed his wrist to stop him. Several other individuals could be seen coming to assist in subduing the man.
“Thanks to the swift action of several brave eventgoers, the perpetrator was subdued,” New York GOP Chair Nick Langworthy said in a statement.
Langworthy said Zeldin had “just a little scrape” but it wasn’t what anyone would consider an injury. The chair said he was told that Zeldin’s running mate, former New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito, was there and among those who helped to subdue the man.
Langworthy told the AP that he didn’t 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.
The suspect, who sources identified as 43-year-old David Jakubonis, was taken into custody. Zeldin was unharmed and returned to the stage to finish his remarks to the crowd, thanking law enforcement who helped.
“Congressman Zeldin, Alison Esposito and all members of Team Zeldin are safe following tonight’s attack. Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state,” the Zeldin campaign 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. This needs to stop!”
Zeldin’s Democratic opponent in the race, Gov. Kathy Hochul, said in a tweet that “I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York.” She also said she was “relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody.”
Langworthy is calling on Hochul to issue a security detail for Zeldin to protect him on the campaign trail.
“This could have gone a lot worse. This could have really ended in a horrible way tonight and this is unacceptable,” he said.
Zeldin is an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015.
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