Jakubonis, wielding “a sort of brass knuckles with two daggers protruding from his fingers” took a swipe at Zeldin’s neck, Esposito said…reports Arul Louis
In a climate of deep political polarisation gripping the US, the Republican Partys candidate for New York Governor has escaped a ninja-style attack with a spiked knuckle weapon but the detention of the alleged assailant was late in coming under controversial state law.
Although Lee Zeldin, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, grabbed the wrist of the alleged assailant, David Jakubonis, and thwarted the attack aimed at his neck on July 21, he was arrested and held under federal law only on July 23 after having been let go under state law.
Zeldin had help from his running mate for lieutenant governor, Alison Esposito, a retired New York City police officer during the attack at a campaign rally in Fairport in state’s north-eastern part close to Canada.
She told Fox News that she grabbed the alleged attacker from below the trailer that served as the stage while Zeldin with his “military training” held him by his wrist.
Jakubonis, wielding “a sort of brass knuckles with two daggers protruding from his fingers” took a swipe at Zeldin’s neck, Esposito said.
Currently a member of the House of Representatives, Zeldin is running against Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul, who is seeking her first elected term.
She was the lieutenant governor and stepped in as Governor last year when Andrew Cuomo resigned midway through his term after several accusations of sexual harassment surfaced, though none has led to his prosecution.
In a drama of lax law enforcement being blamed for the uptick in crime, Jabukonis was released without bail by a state court in accordance with state laws enacted by the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
Zeldin, who has made fighting crime a pillar of his campaign, was quick to condemn Jakubonis’s release and several Republicans joined him in accusing Democrats of being soft on crime.
After the uproar, the area’s federal prosecutor stepped in and charged Jakubonis under a federal law against assaulting members of Congress and arrested him on July 23.
The federal law allows holding him in custody.
In a statement announcing the arrest and the charges, the federal prosecutor’s spokesperson described the weapon only as a “keychain with two sharp points” and said that during the attack Jakubonis repeated, “you’re done”.
Hochul tweeted her condemnation of the attack, saying: “It has no place in New York.”
President Joe Biden, who like his party members has focused on gun violence, said in a statement that the attack “defies our fundamental democratic values”.
The attack on Zeldin took place on the same day the Democrat-dominated House panel investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol held a televised hearing to highlight the danger to democracy from political violence by the right.
In the atmosphere of sharp political divisions, a man with a gun was arrested last month outside the residence of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, and charged with attempted assassination.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nicholas John Roske had said that he came from California to kill Kavanaugh because he was upset that the earlier Supreme Court judgment making abortions legal throughout the country was going to be undone and by the mass shooting in a Texas school that killed 21.
Zeldin who completed his active duty Army service is now a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, which can be broadly compared to the Territorial Army.