New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Monday for continued reviews of the Labor Day weekend festivities celebrating Caribbean culture after two people were fatally shot in the early morning hours.
“We are saddened and have to do more,” de Blasio said at a news conference before the annual West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn.
The mayor said the organization of J’Ouvert, a party celebrating the break of day, would continue to be reviewed. De Blasio would not say whether the pre-parade celebration, which has been plagued with violence in recent years, should be canceled next year, other than to say “we will work with community leaders and do a thorough review.”
The NYPD is investigating the shootings, officials said. No arrests have been made.
Tyreke Borel, 17, of Brooklyn, was shot in the chest about 3:50 a.m. and later died at a hospital, police said. A 72-year-old woman was shot in the hand and the arm at the same location around Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard in Crown Heights and was taken to Kings County Hospital Center in stable condition, police said.
About 25 minutes later, Tiarah Poyau, 22, of Brooklyn, was shot in the head a block away, police said. She was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital Center.
Police say they’re investigating whether the shootings are related.
A 20-year-old man was also shot in the leg around 6:45 a.m. after two groups of people got into a verbal dispute near Clarkson and Rogers avenues, according to police. He was taken to Kings County Hospital Center in stable condition, police said.
Meanwhile, investigators said a man was stabbed and slashed in the neck and left cheek near Eastern Parkway and Classon Avenue about 5:30 a.m. He was taken to New York Methodist Hospital in stable condition, according to police.
A woman was also stabbed in the area, but police said she refused medical attention.
Emergency medical service volunteer Capt. John Wilson said Monday that a volunteer EMS technician was able to revive an unconscious 16-year-old and assisted the woman shot in the hand. He described the scene early Monday morning as unsettling.
“There were hundreds ... waves of teenagers 15, 16 and 17 years old walking along Eastern Parkway drinking and smoking drugs,” Wilson said. “The average person would have been scared.”
Retired FDNY EMS Capt. James Rocky Robinson, who heads the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corp., said recent parades had been overtaken by “gangs and droves of young kids. It’s given the parade a bad name.”
The violence comes amid unprecedented precautions taken by police to ensure safety in the wake of last year’s overnight celebration when an aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was killed by a stray bullet.
The NYPD had planned to double the number of officers patrolling the neighborhood that was filled with steel drum players and costumed revelers gathering for J’Ouvert. The department added 42 security cameras to watch over an estimated 250,000 revelers and illuminated this year’s celebration with 200 light towers. For the first time, organizers of the parade, which began at 11 a.m., were required to get a permit.
Sharon Edwards, 45, of Brooklyn, who marched representing Trinidad and Tobago in red, black and white makeup and clothes, said she felt a lot safer with the heavy police presence where dozens of uniformed officers were posted at every corner and intersection on Eastern Parkway. “It was a whole lot better, but it’s unfortunate that there were shootings.” Edwards said she noticed there were fewer people at the parade this year.
Michelle McCray, 45, of the Bronx, said the parade’s “costumes, the colors, music and food is great.” However, she said she planned on leaving early. “Last year, I had to run when shots were fired.” She watched the parade near the Brooklyn Museum rather than from Crown Heights where the shootings occurred.
Percy Gravenhise, 52, of Brooklyn, who was setting up his food stand of fried fish, spicy barbecue chicken and macaroni and cheese, said, “I love to cook because I enjoy seeing people eat what I cook. It makes me feel good.” The safety issue at the parade has not deterred him from preparing food at the parade pre-festivities. “I don’t have a problem because people don’t have a problem with me. The festival is good when you are not looking for trouble.”
Last week, police, in conjunction with community groups, distributed fliers stating: “This community will no longer tolerate this violence. Do not shoot anyone. Do not stab anyone.”
The changes come a year after Carey Gabay, a 43-year-old lawyer who had worked for Cuomo and was deputy counsel of the state’s economic development agency, was shot in the head as two street gangs exchanged gunshots during J’Ouvert festivities. Earlier that morning, a Bronx man, Denentro Josiah, was stabbed to death during festivities.
In 2014, a man was fatally shot and two people wounded during the celebration.
Cuomo, speaking Monday at the parade, noted Gabay’s death and the continued violence, saying “the cruelest situation is when you can predict the violence and you can predict the death and you still can’t do anything about it, and I hope this is a wake-up call. Carey Gabay should not have died in vain. We should’ve gotten the message.”
Curbing the violence is going to take more than increased police efforts, he said.
“It’s going to take all of us working together to make a difference. It’s going to take the leaders of the community. It’s going to take the organizers of the parade. It’s going to take the participants of the parade,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to take the neighbors and the residents to say ‘Enough is enough.’ We have to stop the violence, stop the shooting, stop the killing.”
With Anthony M. DeStefano, amNewYork and AP