Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who is running against Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul in the race for New York governor, was attacked by an unnamed man who allegedly tried to stab him during a campaign stop on July 21.
The congressman was on stage at an event in Perinton, New York, and talking to campaign supporters when the attacker pulled a knife out on him, according to a spokesperson.
Zeldin, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, was able to escape injury and stop the man by grabbing his wrist until others assisted in taking the attacker to the ground, Zeldin’s campaign said.
He then returned to the stage to finish his remarks after the alleged attacker was apprehended by law enforcement officials, his team said.
Former New York Police Department Deputy Inspector Alison Esposito, Zeldin’s running mate, was among those who helped stop the attacker, state GOP Chair Nick Langworthy told the Associated Press.
“Thank you to everyone who reached out following tonight’s attack in Fairport. Someone tried to stab me on stage during this evening’s rally, but fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him,” Zeldin wrote on Twitter on Thursday night following the incident.
“I’m ok, and @EspositoforNY [Alison Esposito] and all other attendees are safe. The attacker is in custody. Grateful for the attendees who stepped up quickly to assist and the law enforcement officers who quickly responded. I’m as resolute as ever to do my part to make N.Y. safe again,” Zeldin said.
‘More Must Be Done to Make NY Safe Again’
Zeldin spokesperson Katie Vincentz posted a tweet Thursday that both the Congressman and Esposito as well as all members of his team are safe, adding that Zeldin returned to the stage to continue his final remarks after officers apprehended the attacker.
Video footage of the event posted on Twitter showed Zeldin on stage holding a microphone as he addresses a crowd of people before a man approaches him on the stage, holding an unknown object in his hand. The man then motions toward Zeldin’s neck area but the congressman is able to swiftly grab the man’s arm and move it away.
The attacker then grabs hold of Zeldin’s arm and pulls him to the ground while other people try to intervene.
“Far more must be done to make N.Y. safe again,” Vincentz wrote in a tweet Thursday. This is out of hand. Rep. Zeldin is just the latest N.Y. whose life has been affected by the out-of-control crime & violence in N.Y. This must stop! Thankfully, we still have exceptional officers answering the call to protect us.”
Zeldin, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who has represented eastern Long Island in Congress since 2015, is challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul in the November gubernatorial contest.
Hochul said in a statement on Twitter Thursday evening that she condemned the attack and was “relieved to hear” her opponent had escaped unscathed.
“My team has informed me about the incident at Lee Zeldin’s campaign event tonight. Relieved to hear that Congressman Zeldin was not injured and that the suspect is in custody. I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible—it has no place in New York,” Hochul wrote.
‘Wave Of Violent Crime’
Langworthy told AP that he had spoken with Zeldin via text message after the attack and that he is “fine” and “not seriously injured,” having escaped with “just a little scrape.”
Zeldin has focused his campaign on fighting crime in New York and has previously taken aim at the Biden administration over its policy failures that have led to a wave of violent crime in big cities as well as an influx of illegal aliens attempting to cross into the United States through the southern border.
He was among the Republicans in Congress who voted against certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
In recent weeks, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have also complained that an influx of illegal immigrants has put pressure on homeless shelters in their cities as well as other services.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office told AP on Thursday that it is “aware of an incident at the speech of gubernatorial candidate Zeldin this evening. A suspect is in custody and Major Crimes is investigating.”