West Indian Day Parade celebrates Caribbean cultures, but shooting leaves 1 dead, 3 others hurt

More than 1 million people were expected to march and line Eastern Parkway and nearby streets in Brooklyn for the traditional parade that stepped off on Sept. 1 , 2014. The event, which celebrates Caribbean culture, is one of the largest parades in the city. (Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware)

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People in brilliantly colored costumes adorned with feathers and sequins danced down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn Monday to the cheers of more than 1 million spectators.

The 47th annual West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights and Prospect Heights served as a celebration of Caribbean cultures in New York City, with reggae music booming and the flags of several nations -- including Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago -- fluttering.

The festivities, however, were marred by violence.

Several people were shot, one person fatally, in the early morning by a "career criminal" who was immediately apprehended, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to reassure revelers that the "vast majority" of attendees were celebrating "safely and appropriately," and Bratton said helicopters and 4,000 officers were on scene to monitor activity and help keep the peace.

De Blasio marched with his wife, Chirlane McCray, who has roots in St. Lucia and Barbados, and children, Chiara and Dante, along the route. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo joined him for several blocks. The mayor honored the Caribbean community's contributions to New York, which he called a "city of immigrants."

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Overall, the mood was jubilant. Loudspeakers blared from homes and front stoops. Impromptu dance parties also formed. Vendors peddled aromatic West Indian fare such as oxtail and jerk chicken.

"It's unity of the islands just for one day," said Zelma Daisley, visiting from Barbados.

Hosea Nelson, 53, of Crown Heights, originally from Jamaica, was selling flags and had brought a dice-and-board game called Crown and Anchor. He said he likes the dancers in the parade. "They look beautiful," he said.

For Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the parade has been a lifelong affair. He marched in it as a child, policed it when he was a cop and Monday was a grand marshal.

"It shows the diversity of the borough, the beauty of people living together," he said.

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The violence had begun overnight when, the NYPD said, three people were shot, one fatally, after a gunman opened fire into a crowd of people. A man, 26, whose name was not released, began shooting about 3:30 a.m. on Empire Boulevard between Rogers and Nostrand avenues, police said.

A man, 55, was hit in the torso and pronounced dead at the scene, police said, while another man and a woman, both 22, also were struck. Police said their injuries were not life-threatening. Bratton called the case "very unfortunate," but noted that "the individual that did the shooting was taken into custody immediately by police."

Several rounds hit an unmarked police van sitting near the scene, shattering the vehicle's glass and cutting a detective inside, police said.

Police said they chased the shooter and arrested him, finding a .45-caliber black firearm that he had dropped. Charges were pending Monday.

With Dan Rivoli

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