Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for New York governor, criticized the release of the suspect charged with attacking the congressman at a campaign event in Monroe County Thursday evening, while also thanking law enforcement and bystanders who intervened.
“The person from last night was instantly released back out on the streets,” Zeldin said Friday morning in Seneca Falls.
The attacker in question climbed onto a low stage where Zeldin was speaking. The suspect, identified by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office as David G. Jakubonis, 43, of Fairport, had a weapon in his hand, swung it toward Zeldin’s neck, and told him, “You’re done.”
“It’s bad to try to stab anybody. He was trying to stab a member of Congress in a political, at a political event. And with all the other complications — you can think of many different reasons why — he should not have been instantly released,” Zeldin said.
The congressman also used the incident as an opportunity to discuss mental health problems in individuals who may commit crimes.
“There are people in our society who need help,” he said. “The person who came on stage yesterday was apparently drunk — that’s what I was told — my interaction with him was brief, a little bit longer than I would’ve liked even as it was, even though it was brief. Apparently, he was a military veteran. And talking to somebody who interacted with him, they said that he had some of the mental wounds of war. One of the issues with the way the system in New York is putting people back out on the streets instantly is that there are individuals who need help.”
Zeldin said the state needs to repeal its cashless bail law and give judges more discretion when it comes to bail.
Zeldin thanked the bystanders who helped subdue his attacker, including his running mate, former New York Police Department deputy inspector Alison Esposito, who said Zeldin’s response “underscores what kind of a fighter we have in Congressman Lee Zeldin.”
Jakubonis is charged with felony attempted assault and was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance.