PERINTON, N.Y. (WROC) — David Jakubonis was arrested Saturday on a federal charge of assaulting Congressman Lee Zeldin. Jakubonis will make his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Marion W. Payson in Rochester.


PERINTON, N.Y. (WROC) — A Fairport man has been charged with attempted assault for his involvement in an attack on Congressman Lee Zeldin during a campaign event in Perinton Thursday night.

Zeldin is the Republican candidate for governor in New York State.

Witnesses say Zeldin was giving a speech about bail reform at the VFW on Macedon Center Road when a man stumbled through the crowd. He then proceeded to climb on the stage and pull what was initially believed to be a knife.

Authorities clarified Friday, that the weapon was a black hardened plastic keychain with two sharp points designed for self-defense.

Witnesses say when the man lunged at Zeldin, AMVETS National Director Joe Chenelly tackled and restrained him, along with other bystanders at the scene.

Those on the scene were able to zip-tie the suspect before he was taken into custody by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect responsible for the attack was identified overnight Friday as 43-year-old David Jakubonis of Fairport. He was charged with attempted assault in the second degree.

Preliminary reports say the man who attacked the congressman was a military veteran, but police could not verify that as of Friday. Officials also said he was not given a chemical test to provide evidence that he was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Chenelly said he vows to get the man in custody the help he needs.

“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,’ and told him, ‘You’re going to get better and focus on that,’ and said, ‘You can contact me after this thing is done,.” Chenelly said. “I was told not the engage with him right now. I think it’s very important we obviously have a mental health crisis nationwide— not just with our veterans but we especially have it with our veterans.”

According to deputies with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Jakubonis swung his weapon toward Zeldin’s neck and told him “you’re done.”

Jakubonis was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled to be back in court on August 30.

Zeldin was not hurt and took the stage again when it was over.

A live stream recording the event captured the moment the republican candidate was attacked. Footage of what police say was an attempted assault can be seen below.

Congressman Zeldin made a statement expressing his gratitude for the people who helped defend him during the incident. He said:

“Thank you to everyone who reached out following tonight’s attack in Fairport. Someone tried to stab me on stage during this evening’s rally, but fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him. I’m ok, and Alison Esposito, and all other attendees are safe. The attacker is in custody. Grateful for the attendees who stepped up quickly to assist and the law enforcement officers who quickly responded. I’m as resolute as ever to do my part to make New York safe again. This suspect will likely be right back out on the street immediately.”

Statement from the Zeldin campaign

“Congressman Zeldin, Alison Esposito, and all members of Team Zeldin are safe following tonight’s attack,” Zeldin campaign spokesperson Katie Vincentz said in a statement issued Thursday night. “Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state. Unfortunately, Congressman Zeldin is just the latest New Yorker whose life has been affected by the out-of-control crime and violence in New York. This needs to stop! Thankfully, we still have exceptional men and women in law enforcement answering the call to protect our streets.” 

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.