Man charged with attempted assault after rushing at Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin


A 43-year-old man was charged with attempted assault for trying to attack Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin on Thursday night during a campaign speech, authorities said. According to images from the scene, the man’s weapon appeared to be a cat-shaped self-defense keychain.

Congressman Zeldin was speaking at an event in a town on the outskirts of Rochester at around 8 p.m. when David Jakubonis, from the village of Fairport, about a mile away from the campaign stop, climbed onstage, approached Zeldin and told him, “You’re done,” while swinging a weapon towards his neck, according to Monroe County Sheriff’s office.

The Monroe County Sheriff didn’t return a request for further detail on the weapon used, though photos of it tweeted out by the Metropolitan Republican Club, showed what appeared to be a My Kitty Self-Defense keychain, billed as a plastic keychain that doubles as a self-defense tool, when you thread your fingers through the cat’s eyes, and use its pointy ears to fend off an attacker.

Onlookers helped subdue Jakubonis until deputies arrived and arrested him. Jakubonis was arraigned on charges of attempted assault in the second degree, a class E felony, in Perinton Town Court and released. The charge is not a bail eligible offense, according to Lucian Chalfen, a spokesperson for the New York State Court system.

No one was injured, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s office.

Zeldin has railed against the state’s bail laws and campaigned on rolling back reforms. Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy had already planned a rally in Buffalo on Friday to blast Jakubonis’ release.

“Someone tried to stab me on stage during this evening’s rally,” Zeldin tweeted Thursday night after the incident.

“Political scores should be settled at the ballot box, not on stage at campaign events trying to violently attack candidates you disagree with,” said the congressman, who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election over debunked claims of election fraud by former President Donald Trump. “This is not ok.”


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