Suspect accused of attacking U.S. Rep Zeldin faces federal charges

by mcardinal


A man accused of trying this week to stab Republican U.S. Representative and New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin was arrested on Saturday on a federal charge of assaulting a member of Congress using a dangerous weapon, authorities said.

David Jakubonis, 43 of Fairport, appeared before a magistrate judge on Saturday and was ordered held until a bail hearing on Wednesday.

As Zeldin gave a speech on Thursday in his run for governor, Jakubonis climbed on stage, grabbed the right arm of Zeldin and extended a key chain with two sharp points toward him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of New York said. Zeldin, who grabbed Jakuboni’s left arm, was unhurt.

During the assault, which occurred in upstate New York, Jakubonis said several times “you’re done,” a complaint filed Saturday and signed by an FBI agent said.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office had arrested Jakubonis on Thursday, but he was later released. Jakubonis had waived his rights and told the sheriff’s investigators that he had served one tour during the Iraq war in the U.S. Army, the complaint said. Jakubonis told the sheriff’s investigators he asked Zeldin if he was disrespecting veterans, it said.

Jakubonis said he drank on the day of the incident, and he did not know who the speaker was or that he was a politician, it said.

U.S. law carries heightened penalties for assaulting a member of Congress and does not require the government to prove a defendant knew an assault victim was a member of Congress.

Zeldin pushed the suspect away before both men tumbled to the ground as several others tried to subdue the suspect, video footage posted on social media on Thursday by witnesses showed.

Court records showed Jakubonis asked for a court-appointed defense lawyer and that a detention hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

Zeldin has complained about the initial release of Jakubonis. “New York’s cashless bail law MUST be repealed,” Zeldin said in a tweet on Saturday. In his run against Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, Zeldin has said New York’s bail laws must be strengthened to make it easier for judges to hold suspects charged with some crimes.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters