New details have emerged about the alleged attacker of Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., after he was interviewed by the New York Times following his release from police custody.
David Jakubonis, the alleged attacker, was battling a relapse of alcoholism and was being treated for anxiety. The 43-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq claimed that he jumped on stage attempting to take the microphone away from the gubernatorial candidate, because someone told him Zeldin was “disrespecting veterans.” He alleges that he didn’t know who Zeldin was, nor that he was running for the office of governor.
Jakubonis was holding a sharp, cat-shaped object with two prongs in the front. he claimed he was holding it for self-defense, although video of the incident sees Jakubonis move the weapon towards the gubernatorial candidate’s neck.
“The ears are plastic, but I guess they’re sharp,” Jakubonis said. He also admitted he was “checked out” mentally, and “asleep within” himself.
Jakubonis’ mental state declined after the death of his wife and medical discharge from the army in 2012, according to the New York Post. His LinkedIn page shows he has been searching for a job for several years, and his records show that he has no party affiliation.
A video of the assault showed the suspect jumping on stage and walking up to the Republican congressman while he was speaking at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Perinton, New York.
He allegedly then yelled, “you’re done,” before moving the weapon towards Zeldin’s face while Zeldin grabbed his arm. Reports show that AMVETS National Director Joe Chenelly came to Zeldin’s aid and pulled the attacker to the ground, which brought Zeldin to the ground as well. Zeldin was helped up while the suspect was detained.
Zeldin predicted that his attacker would be released from custody after the attack. “His words as he tried to stab me a few hours ago were ‘you’re done,’ but several attendees, including @EspositoforNY, quickly jumped into action & tackled the guy. Law enforcement was on the scene within minutes. The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws,” Zeldin tweeted.
Jakubonis was released from police custody hours after the attack.
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