Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) was accosted Thursday by a man allegedly armed with a cat-shaped, spiked self-defense tool during a speech for his gubernatorial campaign in upstate New York.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to numerous requests for comment about the incident, which was captured on video and shared on social media.
Footage showed Zeldin speaking on an outdoor stage at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Fairport, a village of under 6,srcsrcsrc people, when a man suddenly approached from the congressman’s right and appeared to brandish an object.
Zeldin grabbed the stranger’s wrist, and people in the crowd rushed to wrestle him to the ground. Campaign poster zip-ties were used to subdue the alleged assailant, according to WHEC-TV.
Zeldin was unharmed, according to spokesperson Katie Vincentz, and returned to the stage to finish his speech after the suspect was subdued.
A photo of the item the man was supposedly holding showed it was akin to brass knuckles, with the cat’s “ears” sticking out in sharp points.
Zeldin is running to unseat incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, who tweeted: “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.”
Nick Langworth, the chair of the New York State Republican Committee, excoriated Hochul, accusing her of fanning “the flames of hate by directing her supporters to his rally schedule.”
Langworth was apparently referring to a Thursday press release from Hochul’s campaign in which she included details of Zeldin’s campaign itinerary. Referring to Zeldin as “‘Big Lie’ Lee”—a nod to his status as one of the House Republicans who voted not to certify the 2src2src election—Hochul said that Zeldin would be “making stops across the state peddling dangerous lies, misinformation, and his far-right agenda.”
“This is unacceptable conduct for anyone, let alone a sitting governor,” Langworth fumed.
Zeldin’s communications director said the alleged assailant was taken into custody.
“Far more must be done to make New York safe again. This is very much getting out of hand in this state,” Vincentz tweeted. “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!”