GOP Candidate for New York Governor Attacked at Campaign Event

Rep. Lee Zeldin was not injured
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2022 12:51 AM CDT
GOP Candidate for New York Governor Attacked While Campaigning
US Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican candidate for New York Governor, addresses a crowd of supporters during a primary election party at the Coral House in Baldwin, NY, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.   (Morgan Campbell/Newsday via AP)

Rep. Lee Zeldin, current congressman as well as GOP candidate for governor of New York, was attacked while campaigning in Perinton, outside Rochester, Thursday night. As Zeldin gave a speech about bail reform at a VFW, a man came through the crowd, got onto the stage, pulled a knife, and lunged toward Zeldin, police say. Zeldin says he grabbed the man's wrist and held him back. Then AMVETS National Director Joe Chenelly and other bystanders subdued him and took his knife, Rochester First reports. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office took him into custody, and identified him as an Iraq war veteran who was allegedly intoxicated at the time.

The GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Alison Esposito, was among those who assisted in detaining the suspect, the New York Post reports; neither she nor Zeldin were injured. Zeldin returned to the stage following the incident. "When he said he served in Iraq, I got down hands on my knees and said, ‘You know, we’re going to get through whatever you’ve done here tonight,’ and told him, ‘You’re going to get better and focus on that,’ and said, ‘You can contact me after this thing is done,” Chenelly said. “I was told not to engage with him right now. I think it’s very important we obviously have a mental health crisis nationwide—not just with our veterans but we especially have it with our veterans.”

Zeldin's own statement included a line that took a slightly different turn: "I’m as resolute as ever to do my part to make New York safe again," it concluded. "This suspect will likely be right back out on the street immediately.” And a statement from his team said, "Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state. 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." (More Lee Zeldin stories.)

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