Man attacks GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin during N.Y. gubernatorial rally

July 22 (UPI) -- Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate in New York's gubernatorial race, was attacked Thursday evening while giving a campaign speech, officials and authorities said.

The incident happened at around 8 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post in the town of Perinton, located just outside of Rochester, according to a statement from the sheriff's office for Monroe County.


Video of the incident published by NBC News shows a man in a hat and sunglasses with an object in his right hand approach Zeldin who was speaking outdoors upon a stage. As the man is heard repeatedly saying "you're done," he raises his right hand, which Zeldin grabs at the wrist before others join the struggle and they fall to the ground.

The sheriff's office confirmed that it was a weapon in the suspect's hand and that he "swung it towards Zeldin's neck."

"Members of the audience and Rep. Zeldin's campaign restrained the male until deputies arrived and took him into custody," it said. "There were no injuries."


The suspect has been identified as 43-year-old David Jakubonis of Fairport. He has been charged with second-degree attempted assault and was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and was released.

Zeldin said he was "ok" and and that he avoided injury by being able to "grab onto his wrist in time when he lunged for my neck."

He said the attack was thwarted by his running mate, Alison Esposito, and members of his campaign staff.

"Political scores should be settled at the ballot box, not on stage at campaign events trying to violently attack candidates you disagree with," he said. "This is not ok. This is the United States of America."

"I'm as resolute as ever to do my part to make NY safe again."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement that she had been informed about the incident and was "relieved" that Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect was in policy custody.

"I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible -- it has no place in New York," she said.

Zeldin announced his candidacy in April of 2021, and won his party's nomination late last month.

Latest Headlines