Investigators: Attacker 'did not know who' Zeldin was

Associated Press

Rochester, N.Y. — A man accused of attacking New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin during a recent campaign rally told investigators he’d been drinking that day and didn’t know who the congressman was, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Saturday.

David Jakubonis, 43, was scheduled to appear in court Saturday in Rochester to face a count of assaulting a member of Congress with a dangerous weapon. Jakubonis was arraigned Friday on a separate state charge of attempted assault in the second degree and then released, a Monroe County sheriff’s spokesperson said.

In this image taken from video provided by WHEC-TV, David Jakubonis, left, is subdued as he brandishes a sharp object during an attack U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, right, as the Republican candidate for New York governor delivered a speech in Perinton, N.Y., Thursday, July 21, 2022.

The federal criminal complaint alleges Jakubonis, an Iraq War veteran, told investigators he had been drinking whiskey on Thursday and went onstage as Zeldin addressed a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in the town of Perinton to ask the speaker if he was disrespecting veterans.

In this image taken from video provided by WHEC-TV, David Jakubonis, center, is taken into custody by Monroe County Sheriff deputies after he brandished a sharp object during an attack on U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin in Perinton, N.Y., Thursday, July 21, 2022.

Jakubonis “did not know who the speaker was or that the speaker was a political person,” according to the complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester. The complaint added that when Jakubonis watched video of Thursday evening's incident he told investigators he “must have checked out.”

According to video of the attack, Jakubonis raisedhis arm toward Zeldin as he held a keychain with two sharp points. The congressman from Long Island then grabbed Jakubonis' wrist and the two tussled to the ground as others jumped in to help. Zeldin, who also served in the military, suffered a minor scrape.