Updated Jul 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Lee Zeldin's alleged attacker hit with federal assault charge


Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who is running for New York governor, attends a press conference on May 20, 2021. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The man who allegedly attacked Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) during a campaign event on Thursday and then was released from police custody was re-arrested Saturday on a federal assault charge, Fox News reports.

Driving the news: David Jakubonis, who was initially arrested and charged with second-degree attempted assault on Thursday, was due in court Saturday for the new, more serious charge.

Catch up fast: Jakubonis, 43, climbed on the stage holding a sharp object and “attempted to stab” Zeldin while the Republican nominee for New York governor was speaking at an event.

  • The Monroe County Sheriff’s office said Jakubonis had “a weapon in his hand, swung it toward Zeldin’s neck and told him, ‘You’re done.’”
  • People rushed in to grab Jakubonis. Neither Zeldin nor any other attendee was hurt during the incident. The congressman resumed his speech on bail reform afterward, a spokeswoman for his campaign said.
  • According to the federal criminal complaint, Jakubonis told authorities he was drinking prior to the event and “did not know who the speaker was or that the speaker was a political person" before approaching, the Associated Press reported.
  • Both President Biden and N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is running against Zeldin, condemned the attack.

The big picture: Jakubonis was released after his initial charge. Zeldin said the situation was a prime example of why New York must change a 2019 law banning cash bail for most defendants, save for those charged with certain violent felonies.

  • “After being charged with a felony for [Thursday’s] attack, the man who tried to stab me was instantly released back onto the street due to New York’s insane cashless bail law,” Zeldin tweeted. “We MUST repeal cashless bail in New York!”
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