GOP Representative Lee Zeldin's alleged attacker was detained on a federal assault charge

A representative for the US Attorney's Office in the Western District of New York said the man who is accused of attempting to stab Rep. Lee Zeldin, the candidate for governor of New York, on stage during a campaign event, has been arrested on a federal assault charge after being released on his own recognizance shortly after his initial arrest on Thursday.

According to Barbara Burns, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, David Jakubonis, 43, was detained on Saturday and charged with using a dangerous weapon while committing an assault on a congressional representative. According to court documents, Jakubonis made his first court appearance on Saturday before US Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson in Rochester. The weapon used was described as a self-defense keychain in the court documents.

In relation to the alleged attack on Thursday, Jakubonis was already charged by the state. He was accused of approaching Zeldin, a Republican, as he was giving a speech in Fairpoint, New York, and was charged with attempted assault in the second degree. According to a statement from Zeldin's campaign, Jakubonis "attempted to stab" the Republican lawmaker, but Zeldin "grabbed the attacker's wrist to stop him until several others assisted in taking the attacker down to the ground." Zeldin sustained no harm.

According to a statement from Steve Slawinski, the assistant federal defender for the Western District of New York who is representing Jakubonis, the next court date for a bail hearing is set for Wednesday.

At that time, "I anticipate asking the judge to release him from custody," Slawinski said.

Jakubonis, an Army veteran, allegedly told police he had drunk whiskey the day of the campaign event and "must have checked out" as he approached the stage and questioned whether Zeldin was disrespecting veterans, according to the criminal complaint submitted on Saturday. Authorities were informed by Jakubonis that at the time, he was unaware of Zeldin.

According to Monroe County sheriff's deputy Brendan Hurley, Jakubonis was detained for six hours following his initial arrest on Thursday before being arraigned and released on his own recognizance. According to court documents, he was subject to travel restrictions that prevented him from leaving Monroe County and a protection order ordering him to stay away from Zeldin.

According to New York law, the presiding judge couldn't have set bond even if they wanted to because of the type of felony allegedly committed, Hurley previously told CNN. Cash bail was abolished under New York's bail reform law in 2019 for the majority of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, and Class E is the least serious category of felony.

The swift release of Jakubonis angered Republicans.

Following Jakubonis' initial release on Friday, Zeldin, who has made New York's rising crime rate a key point of his campaign's criticisms of Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, criticized the state's bail system. He claimed that judges should have discretion when deciding who should be kept in custody by the police, and that changes to the state's cashless bail system are required.

"Dangerousness is my first and foremost concern about cashless bail and the need to revamp it," he said. "It should be up to the judges to decide how dangerous something is. It concerns the victim, "Zeldin said at a rally in Onondaga County, New York. Zeldin was unharmed in the attack. "But even if you were talking to the strongest proponent of cashless bail, I would challenge them on this point: I would argue that they're doing a disservice to the person who attacked us on stage last night because they rush — they have to, by law — they have to rush to get him released," the author continued.

Cashless bail should be abolished, according to Zeldin, and "there should also be a certain minimum set where certain cases, certain suspects, and defendants, they have to remain behind bars."

Thursday night, Hochul tweeted that she was "relieved to hear" Zeldin was unharmed in the incident.

"The incident at tonight's campaign event for Lee Zeldin has been reported to my team. Hearing that Congressman Zeldin was unharmed and that the suspect has been apprehended brings me some relief. I strongly condemn this violent behavior because it has no place in New York "Hochul penned.

New information has been added to this story.

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