US congressman Lee Zeldin attacked during campaign speech

  • An attacker allegedly tried to stab US Congressman Lee Zeldin on Thursday. 
  • The incident occurred during a campaign speech in Perinton, New York.
  • The attacker was charged with attempted assault in the second degree and was released on bail.

United States Congressman Lee Zeldin was attacked on Thursday during a campaign speech in upstate New York, the local sheriff’s office said.

The Republican member from New York’s First District said his attacker tried to stab him, but he managed to fend him off.

Zeldin is running for state governor against Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul in November’s election.

He was addressing a crowd in the town of Perinton at about 8:00 pm (00:00 GMT) when a 43-year-old man later identified as David Jakubonis climbed the stage and attacked him, according to a statement by the office of the Monroe County sheriff.

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The attacker “had a weapon in his hand, swung it towards Zeldin’s neck, and told him, ‘You’re done,'” the statement said.

“Members of the audience and Rep. Zeldin’s campaign restrained the male until deputies arrived and took him into custody. There were no injuries.”

Footage of the attack posted online showed Zeldin, a former soldier, speaking in front of a military helicopter at a veterans’ centre, on a stage decorated by hay bales.

The attacker, wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a baseball cap, approached slowly and got within touching distance of Zeldin before the candidate or his team recognised anything was awry.

When the attacker made a swing for Zeldin, the pair grappled for a few seconds before people nearby intervened.

Zeldin wrote on Twitter:

Someone tried to stab me on stage during this evening’s rally, but fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him.

The father of two, a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump, said he was “ok” after the attack.

“Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody,” his rival Hochul wrote on Twitter.

“I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible – it has no place in New York,” added the incumbent, who replaced former governor Andrew Cuomo last year after he quit over sexual harassment allegations.

The sheriff’s office said Jakubonis had been charged with attempted assault in the second degree and was released on bail.

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