Carey Gabay (161355)
Credit: NYS Office of the Governor

While millions enjoyed the 48th annual West Indian American Day Carnival parade on Labor Day, an unfortunate series of events have some labeling the multimillion-dollar generating event dangerous.

Late Sunday night, Carey Gabay, an aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and first deputy legal counsel at Empire State Development, was shot in the head by an apparent stray bullet amid a gun battle between rival gangs in Brooklyn. The shooting took place during J’ouvert, a traditional Caribbean festival held in the wee hours of the morning before the West Indian Day Parade.

Gabay is currently fighting for his life after doctors placed him in a medically induced coma.

“Carey is an outstanding public servant who joined our administration in 2011,” said Cuomo in a statement. “He is a Harvard-educated lawyer who works for the state because he wants to give back to others and make a difference. He is just 43 years old and is a kindhearted man. Carey is a friend to all who have the pleasure of meeting him. I ask that New Yorkers join us by keeping him, his wife, Trenelle, and his family in their prayers at this time.”

While lamenting the shooting of a member of his administration, Cuomo also pointed out what he felt was the real issue at hand.

“This tragic shooting—this one by another seemingly random bullet—is the latest heartbreaking reminder that the crime of gun violence must stop,” Cuomo said. “Enough young, innocent people have died, and it must stop now.”

In another incident, a 24-year-old male was fatally stabbed to death near Grand Army Plaza. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he would convene a meeting with parade organizers to discuss how to make security better at these events.

Other local elected officials denounced the violence but also expressed caution at associating said violence with the parade.

In a joint statement, New York City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Jumaane Williams and Vanessa Gibson reminded the city that the incidents took place at a separate event from the parade and that the parade itself is safe. The three labeled the incidents as “tragic, senseless acts of violence.” In a solo statement, Cumbo said the focus should be on gun violence and how it affects certain communities and not the parade.

“Gun violence in New York City is an epidemic, and it has been an issue for some time,” said Cumbo. “I can’t remember a time in my life, living in New York, that the reality of gun violence wasn’t very real or often hit close to home. It is interesting to me how different administrations are often identified by how they have or have not dealt with gun violence. However, in a very personal way, I have never felt the absence of gun violence in my life.

“Questions have been pouring in about how can we make the carnival safer, but I think the real question here is how do we get to the heart of the issue and how do we put real resources that are sustainable towards the epidemic of gun violence in our communities? I believe this should be a central part of the Black Lives Matter movement and all other movements that are focused on the senseless killing of innocent Black people.”

Some of the mainstream daily newspapers around the city were quick to tie the violence to the parade. And when that wasn’t done, references to past violent acts were made to establish a pattern. In 2012, two men were stabbed along the parade route, but it was well after the bands, floats and marchers passed. Last year, a man opened fire at revelers, killing one and wounding several other bystanders.

Thursday evening, New York Sen. Jesse Hamilton, Assemblyman Walter Mosley and Cumbo planned on joining a prayer vigil with colleagues, community groups, advocates and neighborhood residents for victims of gun violence. Beginning at Full Gospel Assembly Church in Brooklyn, the vigil will travel to the corner where Gabay was shot. If you would like to join, the vigil starts at 6 p.m. and the church is located at 131 Sullivan Place, between Bedford Avenue and Stoddard Place.