David Jakubonis is a military veteran who is accused of trying to stab U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican candidate for governor of New York, on July 21.
The incident was caught on video, which you can see below. The motive is not clear.
The attack occurred July 21 at a campaign event in Perinton, which is just southeast of Rochester in upstate New York. Fox News reported that the suspect had “a sharp object.” Rochester First reported on July 22 that authorities later said the “weapon was a black hardened plastic keychain with two sharp points designed for self-defense.”
Zeldin represents New York’s 1st District. His Twitter page reads, “Proudly representing New York’s 1st Congressional District. Member of House Financial Services & Foreign Affairs Committees. Lieutenant Colonel in Army Reserve.”
Zeldin tweeted, “Thank you to everyone who reached out following tonight’s attack in Fairport. 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.”
He added, “I’m ok, and @EspositoforNY, and all other attendees are safe. The attacker is in custody. Grateful for the attendees who stepped up quickly to assist and the law enforcement officers who quickly responded. I’m as resolute as ever to do my part to make NY safe again.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jakubonis Is an Iraq War Veteran & the Man Who Subdued Him Wants to Help Him, Reports Say
According to Rochester First, the suspect is 43 years old and from Fairport, New York, and “reportedly an Iraq War veteran under the influence of alcohol.”
He was zip-tied on the scene, the site reported. AMVETS national director Joe Chenelly stopped him, and Jakubonis was taken into custody, reported MyTwinTiers.com.
“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 told Rochester First. “I was told not the engage with him right now. 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.”
2. Jakubonis Was at Fort Bragg in 2008 & Wrote On LinkedIn, ‘Hire me’
In 2008, Fort Bragg posted a photo of Jakubonis. The caption read, “(Another service member), right, 432nd Blood Supply Detachment, checks the blood type as Pfc. David Jakubonis reads off the list of blood needed by the simulated clinic in the field during their week-long training Oct. 14 through 18.”
He has an Instagram page, but it only has a single photo on it.
On a LinkedIn page, he wrote, “Hire me. Actively seeking employment.” He wrote that he was a medical laboratory technician in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2012, but other positions were “candidate for various agencies” and prospective asset.” He also wrote that he was “Chief of Morale” for the RIT Veterans club.
The page also says he received a bachelor’s degree from RIT. “Bachelor’s Degree, summa cum laude, Criminal Justice, concentration in Psychology,” it reads, listing his GPA as 3.87. Under “activities and societies,” he listed, “President, Criminal Justice Student Association, 2013-2014.”
He also wrote that he received an associate of science degree in Clinical Laboratory Sciences from George Washington University in 2008. The page lists “5 years of work experience in all departments within the laboratory of Army medical hospitals and clinics. Laboratory Technician duties also included blood donation work in all sections of the process.”
His wife’s Facebook page indicates she is deceased.
3. Jakubonis Is Accused of Yelling, ‘You’re Done, Lee’
According to the Batavian, a local business owner named Brandon Lewis witnessed the attack, and he told the news outlet that the suspect yelled, “You’re done, Lee. You’re done, Lee.” He sounded drunk, the newspaper reported.
“It seemed when he grabbed him he wasn’t letting go,” Lewis said. “He wasn’t going in for a hug, let’s put it that way. He didn’t have good intentions.”
Zeldin’s running mate, Alison Esposito, had scraped knuckles, according to the site.
“Congressman Zeldin, Alison Esposito and all members of Team Zeldin are safe following tonight’s attack,” Zeldin campaign spokesperson Katie Vincentz told Rochester First.
“Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state. Unfortunately, Congressman Zeldin is just the latest New Yorker whose life has been affected by the out of control crime and violence in New York. This needs to stop! Thankfully, we still have exceptional men and women in law enforcement answering the call to protect our streets.”
4. Zeldin Was Speaking About Bail Reform When Jakubonis Is Accusing of Pulling ‘the Blade Out’
According to MyTwinTiers.com, Zeldin was speaking about bail reform at the VFW when the man yelled and “wrestled with him a bit, and pulled a blade out.”
Zeldin’s biography says, “Congressman Lee Zeldin grew up in Suffolk County, New York, where he graduated from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach. Congressman Zeldin graduated from the State University of New York at Albany (SUNY) and then Albany Law School, becoming New York’s youngest attorney at the time at the age of 23.”
Read his full bio here.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department told Fox News that it is “aware of an incident at the speech of gubernatorial candidate Zeldin this evening. A suspect is in custody and Major Crimes is investigating. We will update as further information becomes available.”
5. New York’s Governor Condemned the ‘Violent Behavior’ But Was Criticized for a Media Advisory She Released
New York Governor Kathy Hochul released a statement on Twitter:
My team has informed me about the incident at Lee Zeldin’s campaign event tonight. Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody. I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York.
However, she is also being criticized for a media advisory her campaign released:
Zeldin’s bio continues:
Congressman Zeldin serves on two Committees in the House of Representatives: Financial Services and Foreign Affairs, where he serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Additionally, Congressman Zeldin serves as co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus and founding member of the National Estuary Program Caucus and as one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, also serves as co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus, which has over 100 members, and has been a stalwart opponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, coleading a House passed resolution (H.Res.246) to combat it.