Why New York Police Released the Man Who Tried To Stab a Jewish Republican

New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin (R.) / Getty Images
July 22, 2022

A New York man was released from jail without bail hours after he tried to stab Rep. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), a foregone conclusion because of a bail reform law passed in 2019.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Rochester, N.Y., charged David Jakubonis with attempted second-degree assault and released him before his trial, according to a Thursday press release. Jakubonis, an Iraq war veteran who was inebriated, used a small weapon with two sharp prongs to assault Zeldin, telling the representative, "You're done," when he swung at him during a campaign speech for veterans in Perinton.

"After being charged with a felony for last night’s attack, the man who tried to stab me was instantly released back onto the street due to New York’s insane cashless bail law," Zeldin told the Washington Free Beacon. "Too many people throughout our state have suffered violent attacks and even death, as a result of criminals who were allowed to walk free because of soft-on-crime bail policy. We must repeal cashless bail in New York!"

Attempted assault is a felony in New York, but criminal justice reform legislation passed in 2019 bars judges from setting bail because the charge is "nonviolent," the New York Times reported. Zeldin predicted his assailant would be released shortly after the incident due to state law.

In another case in June, a New York City offender stabbed two Subway passengers the day after he was released from jail for brandishing a knife at police.

The attack comes as elected officials face increased threats of violence in the United States. In 2017, a far-left gunman shot up a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game in Washington, D.C., nearly killing House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (La.). A left-wing group threatened this year's upcoming game, warning of "serious consequences" if it doesn't get its way.

Zeldin is running to unseat New York Democratic governor Kathy Hochul in November. Members of Zeldin's campaign staff restrained Jakubonis until law enforcement officers arrived and took the assailant into custody. The congressman was uninjured.

Along with other U.S. states, New York saw crime rise over the past two years. Zeldin's assault took place on the outskirts of the city of Rochester, which set an all-time record for homicides in 2021. The FBI reported the United States in 2020 had its largest ever annual homicide increase, up 30 percent from 2019.

Zeldin is one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress. The Empire State had a record number of assaults against Jews in 2021, as anti-Semitic incidents have reached an all-time high nationwide, the Anti-Defamation League reported in April.

Update 6:46 p.m.: This piece has been updated with a comment from Rep. Zeldin.