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.
Police 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 to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars when a man suddenly approached from his 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. Zeldin was unharmed, according to spokesperson Katie Vincentz.
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.”
Vincentz 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,” she 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!”