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The would-be attacker who “lunged” at Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., on Thursday told investigators that he “did not know” who the speaker on stage was and said he had been drinking whiskey earlier in the day.
David Jakubonis, 43, of Fairport, New York, was charged with state-level charges of attempted assault in the second degree as well as a federal assault charge announced on Saturday.
Jakubonis was initially released on his own recognizance after allegedly attempting to attack the congressman at a gubernatorial campaign event in Fairport on Thursday, but was taken back into custody on Saturday and charged with assaulting a member of Congress using a dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Zeldin was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post event giving a speech about bail reform on Thursday evening when Jakubonis, 43, allegedly got on stage and “lunged” at the gubernatorial candidate with a blade in his hand, according to witnesses.
As Jakubonis “lunged” toward Lee, he can be heard saying “you’re done,” several times, according to video. After several people assisted in taking down Jakubonis, Zeldin got back on stage and continued his speech.
Prosecutors state in a criminal complaint that Jakubonis told investigators that he was drinking whiskey on the day of the incident and walked on-stage at the event to ask the speaker if he was “disrespecting veterans.”
Jakubonis also said that he had a “self-defense key chain” when he went on the stage, but did not “know who the speaker was or that the speaker was a political person,” according to the complaint.
When shown video of the incident by investigators, Jakubonis said he “must have checked out,” also saying that the content of the video was disgusting.
Jakubonis will appear in a detention hearing on July 27.
In a statement on Saturday, Zeldin’s campaign said that he’s “thankful” that federal authorities came in.
“I’m thankful that federal authorities came in to do what New York State’s broken pro-criminal justice system could not – uphold the rule of law. The state must start prioritizing the safety of law-abiding New Yorkers over criminals. Cashless bail must be repealed and judges should have discretion to set cash bail on far more offenses,” Zeldin said.
Zeldin’s campaign shared an image with Fox News Digital that appears to show the blade that was used by the alleged attacker, who is being restrained in the picture.
Zeldin, Esposito and campaign staff were unharmed in the incident, according to a statement.
The congressman tweeted that cashless bail “must” be repealed in New York following the incident.
“After being charged with a felony for last night’s attack, the man who tried to stab me was instantly released back onto the street due to New York’s insane cashless bail law. We MUST repeal cashless bail in New York!,” Zeldin said.
A 2019 bail reform law in New York eliminated cash bail for most nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors.
Fox News’ Maria Paronich contributed to this report.