The race for New York governor took a bizarre turn Thursday night when the Republican candidate, Lee Zeldin, was attacked on stage by a man with a blade. The attacker was arrested but then freed hours later on his own recognizance.
When in history has an attempted assassin been released on their own recognizance?
The congressman from Long Island was giving a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in upstate Monroe County. A man jumped onto the stage and appeared to lunge at the candidate with a weapon in his right hand.
The object he carried had two finger holes for gripping along with two protruding points. Monroe County sheriff’s deputy Brendan Hurley said it is used as a keychain but doubles as a self-defense weapon.
The suspect reportedly shouted “you’re done” as he wrestled with Zeldin.
The alleged assailant was later identified as 43-year-old David Jakubonis of Fairport, N.Y. He was charged with second degree attempted assault and inexplicably released on his own recognizance.
Inexplicably except for that the apparent assassination attempt took place in New York. Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, Zeldin’s opponent in November, tweeted that she is “relieved” that Zeldin was not injured.
State GOP chair Nick Langworthy called on the governor to assign a security detail to Zeldin, saying it may have ended “a lot worse.”
Witnesses said the alleged attacker was disheveled and possibly intoxicated. Among those who detained Jakubonis for the police was the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Alison Esposito. She is a former New York Police Department deputy inspector.
Zeldin was uninjured and able to finish his speech, and he predicted that under New York state laws the suspect would be “instantly released.” In the case of an attempted assassination of a political figure, a handful of hours in custody then being released on your good word qualifies as “instantly.”
Ironically, the candidate was talking to the audience about the state’s bail reform fiasco when the alleged assault occurred. Afterwards, Zeldin released a statement saying that he was unhurt and all others in attendance were safe.
He expressed his gratitude “for the attendees who stepped up quickly” and for law enforcement who responded. The candidate added, “I’m as resolute as ever…to make NY safe again.”