Violence erupted once again during Brooklyn’s J’ouvert festivities in the early morning hours Monday ahead of the annual West Indian Day Parade. Two people were shot and killed, and at least four others were hurt in separate shootings and stabbings. The toll comes despite the NYPD’s heightened security measures, after the festivities were bloodied last year by a fatal stabbing and a stray bullet that struck and later killed Cuomo aide Carey Gabay.
Gunfire claimed two victims in Crown Heights. The first, 17-year-old Tyreke Borel, was shot in the chest around 3:45 a.m. near Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard. Borel was later pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital. About a block away, 22-year-old Tiarah Poyau was shot in the head soon after. Police said they did not believe Poyau nor Borel were the intended targets.
Near the same location where Borel was gunned down, a 72-year-old woman was hit in the arm by a stray bullet. She is expected to survive. Early reports suggested another 66-year-old bystander had been wounded in that shooting, but she suffered injuries as she was trying to flee the scene.
A 23-year-old woman was stabbed in the back around 5 a.m. not far from Prospect Park. She refused medical attention. About a half-hour later, and blocks north, another victim was stabbed in the neck. The person, who was not identified, is hospitalized and in serious condition.
A 20-year-old male was the last wounded in the bloody predawn hours. The man was shot in the leg around 6 a.m. during a dispute; his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. Police have made no arrests in connection with any of the day’s bloodshed so far.
The J’ouvert festival, a tradition that usually draws more than 250,000 revelers, has been unable to shake its reputation for violence in recent years. Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised that this year’s event would be “safer than ever” with the implementation of the most intense security protocols in the celebration’s history. The NYPD doubled the number of officers on patrol, added more than 40 new security cameras, and brought in 200 overhead lights to quell the potential for carnage. Officials also required permits for this year’s parade for the first time. Police and community leaders also teamed up to hand out pamphlets and fliers urging people to refrain from violent activity, and initiated a social media campaign with hashtags such as #WeAreJOuvert.
Mayor de Blasio addressed the violence before the kickoff of the West Indian Day Parade Monday. The mayor said the actions of a few did not define “the hundreds of thousands who do the right thing” and peacefully celebrate. “We don’t accept the status quo of any violence,” de Blasio added. We will not accept it in any community. We will fight against it.”
De Blasio stopped short of calling for the cancellation of the J’ouvert festivities, but explained that “all options were on the table” after a full review.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose staffer Gabay was caught in the crossfire between gangs, called the bloodshed a “wake-up call.” “We had more violence and more death last night,” Cuomo said. “I think in some ways 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.”
“Carey Gabey should not have died in vain,” he added. “We should have gotten the message.” On a somber but more hopeful note, the governor announced the five winners of the Carey Gabay Scholarship Program, which provides students from low-income backgrounds with a full ride to a SUNY school.
This post has been updated throughout.