President Joe Biden released a statement on Friday condemning the armed attack on Congressman and New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin after a man wielding a sharp object lunged at Zeldin Thursday evening during a campaign stop in Perinton.
President Biden’s statement said the following:
I condemn the attack on Congressman Zeldin in the strongest terms. As I’ve said before, violence has absolutely no place in our society or our politics. I am especially grateful for the courage of those who immediately intervened, and that he is unharmed and was able to continue his speech. I also want to thank the law enforcement officers who quickly took action and are investigating this attack that defies our fundamental democratic values.
Video of the attack, shared on Twitter by reporter Olivia Beavers, shows a man who appears to be carrying a bladed knuckleduster walk up on stage and lunge at Zeldin and pull him to the ground as people from around the stage rush in to help.
“You’re done! You’re done!” the assailant shouts.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department arrested the suspect who was identified as 43-year-old David G. Jakubonis. American Vets (AMVETS) national director Joe Chenelly was the first person to jump on stage to help stop Jakubonis.
Chenelly told American Military News that in the time between restraining Jakubonis and law enforcement arriving to take him away, Jakubonis revealed to Chenelly that he had been a veteran of the war in Iraq.
“When he said he served in Iraq, I got down hands on my knees and said, ‘You know, we’re going to get through whatever you’ve done here tonight,’ and told him, ‘You’re going to get better and focus on that,’ and said, ‘You can contact me after this thing is done,” Chenelly said.
“I was told not the engage with him right now,” he added. “I think it’s very important we obviously have a mental health crisis nationwide— not just with our veterans but we especially have it with our veterans.”
After the incident, Zeldin tweeted, “His words as he tried to stab me a few hours ago were “you’re done”, but several attendees, including [Alison Esposito], quickly jumped into action & tackled the guy. Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes. The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws.”
Fox News reported Jakubonis was arraigned in the Perinton Town Court and released afterward on his own recognizance, as Zeldin’s tweet predicted.