Witness recounts attack on Lee Zeldin at campaign event in New York: 'Kinda crazy'

Zeldin, who is running for governor in New York, was giving a speech outdoors when the attempted attack happened

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FIRST ON FOX: Witness Cody Crippen said he had decided to check out Rep. Lee Zeldin’s campaign stop on Thursday near where he lives after he heard about it online.

He was filming Zeldin’s speech in Perinton, New York when a man walked onto the stage and allegedly attempted to attack the gubernatorial candidate.

"It was actually kinda crazy," Crippen told Fox News Digital. "I was just watching and this guy, it looked like he was a veteran, he kinda just started walking up on stage and he started talking to Mr. Lee Zeldin and saying ‘oh you’re done, buddy’ and all this and then he ended up pulling out -- it was like a little brass knuckle keychain." 

Crippen said the keychain looked like a cat with two ears that were sharpened like blades. 

LEE ZELDIN, NEW YORK GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, ATTACKED AT CAMPAIGN STOP 

A man allegedly tried to attack Rep. Lee Zeldin during a campaign stop in New York Thursday night. Pictured above is the weapon he used when he attempted to attack.

A man allegedly tried to attack Rep. Lee Zeldin during a campaign stop in New York Thursday night. Pictured above is the weapon he used when he attempted to attack. (Zeldin Campaign)

"They’re like self-defense keychains," he said. "So he pulled one of those out and he actually like poked at Mr. Zeldin’s chest, his stomach and whatnot and then he actually grabbed him and they kinda went down."

Zeldin was speaking at a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post event, giving a speech about bail reform when the attack happened. 

AMVETS national Director Joe Chenelly came up behind the attacker and "tackled" him, Crippen said, adding that lieutenant governor nominee Alison Esposito "punched the guy in the face like 20 times." 

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked during a gubernatorial campaign stop in Perinton, New York on Thursday night where an individual allegedly pulled out a sharp object.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked during a gubernatorial campaign stop in Perinton, New York on Thursday night where an individual allegedly pulled out a sharp object. (Ian Winner)

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After the man was taken down, Chenelly said the crowd started screaming because people were shouting the attacker had a gun. 

Video he took shows people trying to get away over concerns he might start firing into the audience. 

Crippen said he could see the man didn’t have a gun "but then everybody started running so I just kinda kept standing there and filming cause we didn’t know if the guy was gonna get loose or something and in case we had to go, you know, and try and subdue him again."

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked during a gubernatorial campaign stop in Perinton, New York on Thursday night where an individual allegedly pulled out a sharp object.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked during a gubernatorial campaign stop in Perinton, New York on Thursday night where an individual allegedly pulled out a sharp object. (Ian Winner)

In the melee, he said it got "kinda bloody and there was a couple of dudes that got punched in the face."

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Crippen went to his truck where he said he always keeps emergency medical supplies and handed out Band-Aids and alcohol wipes for minor injuries "because, I mean, they had to hold this guy down and there was blood everywhere and stuff like that." 

He said the man – who Crippen said he had seen in the area before and seemed to be local – didn’t make his motivation clear but seemed to be "disgruntled" and was "obviously intoxicated."  

"There was a lot of drinking going on there," he added. 

Congressman Lee Zeldin stands on stage during his stump speech, before an alleged attack on him, in Fairport, New York, United States, July 21, 2022. 

Congressman Lee Zeldin stands on stage during his stump speech, before an alleged attack on him, in Fairport, New York, United States, July 21, 2022.  (Ian Winner)

"In all the time I’ve been around I’ve seen some crazy stuff but, I mean, nobody trying to get a political candidate like that," Crippen said. "The guy literally walked up on him with a spiked brass knuckle keychain."

Crippen added that "there was a lot of good people there so people were in good hands and thankfully nobody really got seriously injured." 

Zeldin put out a statement after the attempted attack. 

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"Thank you to everyone who reached out following tonight’s attack in Fairport," Zeldin said. "Someone tried to stab me on stage during this evening’s rally, but fortunately, I was able to grab his wrist and stop him for a few moments until others tackled him. I’m ok, and Alison Esposito, 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 New York safe again. This suspect will likely be right back out on the street immediately."