A man who's accused of attacking gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin upstate earlier this week has now been charged in federal court, the U.S. Justice Department announced Saturday.
David G. Jakubonis, 43, of upstate Fairport, had been freed without bail following state criminal charges, but is now in custody once again and facing up to 10 years in prison on a federal charge of assaulting a member of Congress using a dangerous weapon.
Jakubonis, a U.S. veteran, was ordered detained Saturday pending a hearing July 27, the Justice Department said.
Zeldin, a Republican congressman from Shirley, represents parts of eastern Long Island in the House of Representatives. He was not injured in the attack on Thursday at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post near Rochester. Zeldin said Friday his campaign will be beefing up security.
"Congressman Zeldin was speaking from the bed of a flatbed trailer. Jakubonis walked onto the trailer, approached the Congressman, extended a keychain with two sharp points toward him and grabbed his arm. A struggle then ensued between Congressman Zeldin and Jakubonis and, as bystanders intervened, Jakubonis pulled Congressman Zeldin down onto the bed of the trailer, stating several times during the assault, 'you're done.' Jakubonis was subdued and arrested," the Justice Department wrote in a news release.
A video of the encounter shows Zeldin grabbing the man’s wrist and the two struggling as aides and others intervene and all tumble to the floor of the platform where Zeldin had been speaking.
The alleged attacker had been charged locally with second-degree attempted assault that is ineligible for bail to be set, and a defendant must be released. Sandra Doorley, the district attorney of Monroe County where Jakubonis was initially charged, is a co-chair of Zeldin’s campaign.
According to a copy of the criminal complaint signed by an FBI agent, the defendant told investigators that he had drunk whiskey on the day of the incident, “that he walked onstage at the event and asked the speaker if he was disrespecting veterans” and “that he did not know who the speaker was or that the speaker was a political person.”
Shown a video of the incident, the man said it was “disgusting” and that “‘he must have checked out,’” the complaint says.
The complaint contains photos of the defendant wearing an Iraq War veteran cap, approaching the congressman, wielding the weapon, and Zeldin being attacked.