The man who allegedly tried to stab Republican candidate for New York governor Lee Zeldin with a bladed weapon during a campaign stop on Thursday was released from jail within hours of his arrest on a felony charge — just as Zeldin had predicted.
David Jakubonis, 43, from Fairport, New York, was arraigned overnight in Perinton Town Court on a count of second-degree attempted assault stemming from the attack on Rep. Zeldin but was quickly released on his own recognizance.
In a tweet after the violent incident in Monroe County, Zeldin, who is running as a tough-on-crime candidate against incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, said he expected his alleged assailant to be back on the streets in no time.
“His words as he tried to stab me a few hours ago were ‘you’re done’, but several attendees, including @EspositoforNY, quickly jumped into action & tackled the guy,” the gubernatorial hopeful tweeted early Friday. “Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes. The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws.”
Critics on Twitter reacted with a mix of incredulity and dismay at the news of the suspect’s swift release.
“This guy tried to stab a man running for Governor and is back on the streets?!?” Desi Cuellar, a GOP congressional candidate from Queens, tweeted. “New York has truly become a sick place run by criminals!”
Ben Domenech, editor-at-large at The Spectator magazine, wrote: “Attempt to stab a GOP Congressman on stage, get released on your own recognizance. New York, everybody.”
Erin Perrine, former President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, also weighed in: “Really sad to see how much my home state supports criminals more than victims.”
Zeldin, a sitting US congressman from Long Island, was delivering a stump speech about bail reform in Perinton, New York, when he was confronted by Jakubonis.
The 43-year-old man, who is reportedly an Iraq War veteran and was said to be drunk at the time, was seen on video jumping on stage and lunging at the candidate with an unknown weapon shaped like a cat’s face featuring two blades.
“I saw that he [was] approaching the congressman, so I jumped up on the stage,” witness Joe Chenelly told The Post.
After a brief tussle between the suspect and Zeldin, Chenelly, a combat veteran, tackled the aggressor to the ground.
Chenelly told Rochester First that when he later spoke with Jakubonis and found out the suspect had served in Iraq, he promised to get him help.
“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. You’re going to get better and focus on that. You can contact me after this thing is done,’” Chenelly, who is running for the state Assembly, told the outlet.
Jakubonis was then detained by a number of witnesses including GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Alison Esposito.
Zeldin was unharmed and resumed his speech after Jakubonis was led away by responding police officers.
Later on Thursday, Zeldin told The Post via text he was “OK” and described the incident as “crazy.”
Hochul, who will be facing off against Zeldin this coming November, condemned the attack on her opponent.
“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,” she said in the tweet. “I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York.”