Long Island Congressman and Republican nominee for governor Lee Zeldin was nearly stabbed by a would-be attacker who ran up and confronted him during a campaign stop in Rochester Thursday, it was reported.
According to WROC-TV, the knife-wielding suspect confronted Zeldin as he addressed a crowd at a VFW event in the town of Fairport.
The man jumped onto the stage where Zeldin was speaking and began yelling at him, witnesses told WROC. The suspect was subsequently wrestled to the ground by rally attendees and taken into custody, according to the New York State Republican Party.
Zeldin described what happened in a post on his campaign Twitter account Thursday night.
“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 before others tackled him,” he wrote. “Grateful for the attendees who stepped up quickly to assist and the law enforcement officers who quickly responded.”
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.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) July 22, 2022
Video of the incident quickly made the rounds on Twitter.
Here is video of the attack involving Rep. Zeldin from witness Cody Crippen pic.twitter.com/Ur1CfpkdsS
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) July 22, 2022
The Zeldin campaign issued a statement noted that the Congressman was uninjured in the attack. After the suspect was taken away, Zeldin resumed his stump speech, WROC reported.
“Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state,” according to Zeldin campaign spokesperson Katie Vincentz. “Unfortunately, Congressman Zeldin is just the latest New Yorker whose life has been affected by the out of control crime and violence in New York. This needs to stop! Thankfully, we still have exceptional men and women in law enforcement answering the call to protect our streets.”
Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, whom Zeldin is challenging in the November general election, quickly condemned the incident and expressed relief that Zeldin was uninjured.
“My team has informed me about the incident at Lee Zeldin’s campaign event tonight,” Hochul said in a tweet on her campaign Twitter account. “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.”
Locally, one of the six Republican New York City Council Members, Joann Ariola of Queens, was also quick to condemn the apparent act of political violence.
“Attacks on political candidates, regardless of their viewpoints, are absolutely unacceptable,” Ariola said in a statement. “This country was founded on the idea of freedom of speech. Political violence of this kind represents a dangerous shift away from the principles that this nation was built upon, and towards a tyranny in which anyone who voices dissent against the perceived status quo is punished. This can not, and will not be tolerated, and shows why we now more than ever must elect a candidate who stands for those principles that America was established on.”