Man who attacked Lee Zeldin arrested on federal charges

In this photo provided by Ian Winner, police officers work the scene after U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for New York governor, was assaulted by a man who apparently tried to stab him Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Fairport, N.Y. Zeldin escaped serious injury. (Ian Winner via AP)

In this photo provided by Ian Winner, police officers work the scene after U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for New York governor, was assaulted by a man who apparently tried to stab him Thursday, July 21, 2022, in Fairport, N.Y. Zeldin escaped serious injury. (Ian Winner via AP)

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UPDATED 6:48 PM PT – Saturday, July 23, 2022

The man who attempted to stab GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) was arrested on a federal assault charge. David Jakubonis, 43, was arrested on Saturday and charged with assaulting a member of Congress with a dangerous weapon. Jackubonis was previously charged and arraigned on a count of second degree attempted assault at the state level and is scheduled to appear in court on the federal charge Wednesday.

“I expect to request the judge to release him from custody at that time,” said Steve Slawinski, assistant federal defender for the Western District of New York who is representing Jakubonis.

The attacker was holding a hardened plastic key chain used for self defense and reports suggest he was intoxicated during the incident. Zeldin criticized the incident’s lack of coverage in the media and said that it would be a different story if the attack came against someone from the left.

Zeldin, who has made New York’s rising crime rate a central focus of his campaign’s attacks on incumbent Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.), condemned the state’s bail system following Jakubonis’ initial release. He said changes to the state’s cashless bail system are necessary and judges should have discretion when considering who should remain in police custody.
“My first and foremost concern about cashless bail and the need to overhaul it is dangerousness,” Zeldin voiced. “The judges should have discretion to weigh dangerousness. It’s about the victim. But even if you were having a conversation with the strongest advocate of cashless bail, I would challenge them on this point. I would argue that they’re doing a disservice to the person who attacked us on stage last night because they rush, they have to, by law they have to rush to get him released.”

Zeldin went on to say he’s not blaming the left, but echoed calls to repeal cashless bail in New York as a way to move forward.

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