US Representative Lee Zeldin assaulted on stage at New York campaign event, witnesses say

A man attacked U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin at a campaign event near Rochester, New York, on Thursday night, according to officials and witnesses.

Zeldin, a Republican running for governor of New York, was not reported injured in the incident at a Veterans of Foreign Wars station in Perinton.

A man took the stage with a type of sharp instrument between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., Mike Cialini, commander of VFW Post 8495, said in a telephone interview.

NY GOP candidate for Governor Lee Zeldin, R-NY, top right, is shielded by an unidentified man wearing sunglasses as others apprehend a man who attacked Rep. Zeldin during the campaign event in Fairport, NY on July 21, 2022.Courtesy of Jeff Nichols

Video of the event recorded by NBC-affiliated WHEC of Rochester showed the man approaching Zeldin and appearing to repeat “you’re done” as Zeldin clung to his wrist, before others intervened and everyone fell.

The man appeared to be holding a two-pointed object. It wasn’t immediately clear what it was.

zeldin later tweeted his thanks to everyone who reached out, writing in part: “Someone tried to stab me on stage at tonight’s rally but luckily I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackle him.”

The man was subdued and restrained with zip ties, and police arrived, handcuffed him and took him into custody, Cialini said.

“No pattern, nothing. Once subdued, it made sounds. They were just weird noises, said Cialini, who said he witnessed the incident.

Zeldin spokeswoman Katie Vincentz said Zeldin, along with Alison Esposito who is running for lieutenant governor, and other campaign members are safe. Zeldin ended her remarks and thanked law enforcement, she said.

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said Zeldin was “the target of a vicious attack during a campaign rally in Monroe County,” and he praised the actions of bystanders who restrained the man.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said she was relieved Zeldin was not injured and the suspect was in custody.

“I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest possible terms – it has no place in New York,” she tweeted.

Zeldin, from Suffolk County on Long Island, was a state senator and was elected to Congress in 2014.

He won New York’s Republican gubernatorial primary in June, beating three opponents, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew Giuliani. Zeldin will face Hochul in the November gubernatorial election.

Thursday’s campaign event was held at VFW Post 8495, Cialini said, but the organization is apolitical.

Perinton is southeast of Rochester.

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