A Republican campaigning to become New York’s next governor was targeted by an armed attacker during a speech on Thursday.
Fortunately, a quick-thinking witness leapt into action to protect Lee Zeldin from the crazed man.
As the New York Post reported:
“I saw that he [was] approaching the congressman, so I jumped up on the stage,” witness Joe Chenelly told The Post.
“The congressman turned and faced him. I thought he might just be there to hug the congressman or to, you know, maybe heckle him or something along those lines.”
The suspect approached Zeldin wielding the weapon and Chenelly tackled him.
“Once the man was on stage, he reached into his right pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a knife or a razor blade, maybe a box cutter and lunged at the Congressman,” Chenelly said.
Zeldin attempted to block the suspect — who witnesses said was disheveled and possibly intoxicated — and the man lunged at Zeldin once more.
“I tackled him from behind and wrapped him up and dropped him on the right side on stage,” Chenelly said.
The suspect was then detained by a number of witnesses including GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Alison Esposito.
Updates and well wishes poured in throughout the day on social media.
There was an assassination attempt on @leezeldin today.
Thank God he is ok.pic.twitter.com/uGJywqKs7f
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) July 22, 2022
A lunatic leftist attempted to assassinate Republican Lee Zeldin, who is running for Governor of New York… don't wait up for any Democrat to denounce it.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) July 22, 2022
Clear view of the attack ag. Rep. Lee Zeldin today. Terrifying and terrible.
— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) July 22, 2022
Zeldin took to Twitter to assure the American people that he was OK.
I’m ok, and @EspositoforNY, 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 NY safe again.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) July 22, 2022
Some people suggested that Zeldin’s political enemies bore some responsibility for behavior prior to the speech.
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) July 22, 2022
Fortunately, he was able to complete his speech after the harrowing experience.
@RepLeeZeldin was attacked while giving a campaign speech in Upstate New York tonight. A man wrestled him on the stage and pulled out a blade. Zeldin finished the speech after the attack.
— Nicole Silverio (@NicoleMSilverio) July 22, 2022
Despite her harsh criticism of her opponent earlier in the day, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul offered a statement of support following the attack.
According to Axios:
“Congressman Zeldin went back on stage to finish his remarks and thank the law enforcement officers who responded to the scene,” his spokesperson Katie Vincentz tweeted.
What they’re saying: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Zeldin’s Democratic rival, tweeted that she’s relieved to hear that Zeldin wasn’t injured and that the suspect was in custody.
“I condemn this violent behavior in the strongest terms possible — it has no place in New York,” Hochul said.
Worth noting: Trump ally Zeldin has pledged to be tough on crime if elected governor and said in his Twitter post that he’s “as resolute as ever to do my part to make NY safe again.”
Here’s some footage of the attack: