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The running mate for Rep. Lee Zeldin’s, R-N.Y., gubernatorial race says that it’s “horrific” that the alleged attacker has already been released from jail due to New York’s cash bail reform law.
Alison Esposito, a candidate for New York lieutenant governor, told Fox News Digital that the release of David Jakubonis from jail, who is accused of attacking Zeldin, sends a certain message to New Yorkers.
“I think it’s horrific. I think, what does this tell us about the shot that innocent victims, everyday New Yorkers, have just walking the streets of New York?,” Esposito said. “If a sitting congressman at a political rally who is exercising his right to free speech and exercising his free, the freedoms of expressing his opinion, when an individual comes up and attempts to take his life, and attempts to assault him, attempts to potentially murder him, and within six hours that man has been released.”
Esposito, who was previously a deputy inspector for the New York City Police Department, said that the state is doing a “disservice” to the man.
Congressman Lee Zeldin stands on stage during his stump speech, before an alleged attack on him, in Fairport, New York, United States, July 21, 2022. (Ian Winner/Handout via Reuters)
Zeldin was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post event giving a speech about bail reform on Thursday evening when Jakubonis, 43, allegedly got on stage and “lunged” at the gubernatorial candidate with a blade in his hand, according to witnesses.
As Jakubonis “lunged” toward Lee, he can be heard saying “you’re done,” several times, according to video. After several people assisted in taking down Jakubonis, Zeldin got back on stage and continued his speech.
Jakubonis, who was charged with attempted assault in the second degree, was arraigned in Perinton Town Court and released on his own recognizance just hours after the incident happened, according to the sheriff’s department.
“Not only are we doing that man a disservice, who may need help, be it psychological or he, at some point we were told that he was a veteran. Maybe he needs, he has some wounds of war,” she said. “You know, what does that say for the everyday New Yorker who’s trying to get a fair shake in our justice system, when you’re going to release somebody who attempts to take the life of a sitting congressman?”
The candidate for lieutenant governor said that when she first saw Jakubonis get on stage, “I didn’t know what he was doing,” and said that she thought he was possibly part of the sound crew and was going to fix something.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked during a gubernatorial campaign stop in Perinton, New York on Thursday night where an individual allegedly pulled out a sharp object. (Ian Winner)
That quickly changed when the man lunged forward at Zeldin. Esposito said then “his intention was clear,” adding that the congressman “was amazing” and stayed calm throughout the incident.
Zeldin’s campaign shared an image with Fox News Digital that appears to show the blade that was used by the alleged attacker, who is being restrained in the picture.
A man allegedly tried to attack Rep. Lee Zeldin during a campaign stop in New York Thursday night. Pictured above is the weapon he allegedly used. (Zeldin Campaign)
Zeldin, Esposito and their campaign staff were unharmed in the incident, according to a statement.
After the incident, Zeldin tweeted that cashless bail “must” be repealed in New York.
“After being charged with a felony for last night’s attack, the man who tried to stab me was instantly released back onto the street due to New York’s insane cashless bail law. We MUST repeal cashless bail in New York!,” Zeldin said.
A 2019 bail reform law in New York eliminated cash bail for most nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors.
Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.
Sara Ballou is a social media producer for Fox News Digital.