The family of an aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in grief this week after learning that the aide, Carey Gabay, who was shot in the head last week, has died.
Gabay, first deputy legal counsel at Empire State Development Corporation, has been in a coma at Kings County Hospital since he was struck by an apparent stray bullet during a gun battle between rival gangs during J’ouvert, a traditional Caribbean festival held in the wee hours of the morn- ing before the West Indian Day Parade.
“Carey has been fighting bravely, surrounded by the loved ones to whom he has brought so much joy with his jovial nature, generosity of spirit and enduring smile,” read a statement from Gabay’s family. “Many have come to know Carey through professional life, but he is also a kindhearted and selfless soul who has touched the spirit of everyone he’s met. His zest for life speaks volumes.”
Cuomo’s statement also took on a somber tone on Wednesday.
“Today we are all incredibly saddened by the news from Carey Gabay’s family,” the governor said. “I ask that all New Yorkers please join me in keeping both Carey and his family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.” Gabay joined Cuomo’s administration in 2011.
The New York Police Department released a sketch of a man wanted for questioning in the case, and authorities are also offering a $12,500 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in the Gabay shoot- ing. Law enforcement officials are trying to make arrests for other gun-related incidents that allegedly occurred around the festivities.
The shooting of Gabay has led to hysteria among much of the mainstream media in New York regarding safety and security at events such as J’ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade. But the organizers of the festival and parade, along with elected officials, are taking matters seriously.
Last week, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a two-hour, closed-door “emergency meeting” with parade organizers and members of the NYPD at Borough Hall. When Adams emerged, he quickly put an end to the calls from some that the annual festival should be permanently canceled.
“For those that are calling for the end of J’ouvert, we are saying no,” said Adams. “We are not joining the chorus that wants to end a cultural institution that takes place in Brooklyn, as we would not want to end a cultural institution of the many diverse arrays of celebration that occurs in Brooklyn and the city of New York.”
Adams also echoed recent statements made by New York City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Vanessa Gibson and Jumaane Williams when stating that the violence isn’t a direct result of J’ouvert.
Citing the number of shootings that took place on the Fourth of July (at least a dozen according to Adams), the borough president said, “We also want to make clear that the Labor Day weekend is made up of several components, and you can’t point to one of these components and say this is the reason for some form of violent act.”
But don’t talk to Jean Alexander of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association about violence and the event, because she’ll tell you that there was no violence around the parade. When the AmNews asked her about the framing of this narrative, she called reports from main- stream daily newspapers “completely off base.”
“The violence happened at 2 a.m. and 3:40 a.m.,” Alexander told the AmNews. “Our parade started at 11 a.m. How could you equate the two? We got a report from the Brooklyn North and Brooklyn South police chiefs about the arrests during carnival on Eastern Parkway on Labor Day. They told us there was not one single incident reported to the police that day during the carnival period. Whatever happened had nothing to do with us.”
While stating that the press will get an official response within the next day or so, Alexander wanted to further emphasize how the violence shouldn’t be attached to the event.
“The same thing happened last year,” Alexander told the AmNews. “Something happened at around 2 or 3 in the morning. A journalist from the Wall Street Journal called me at 8:30 in the morning to ask me to respond to the violence. I told him, ‘Are you crazy?’”
Gabay’s family continues to grieve and confront the unexpectedly new chapter in their lives.
“There are difficult decisions we will face in the coming hours and days as our family struggles to pro- cess what this means for us,” read the family’s statement. “Our family is grieving that a man in the prime of his life who has impacted so many lives could be struck down by such a callous act. Carey embodies the American story. A son of Jamaican immigrants, he rose from Bronx public housing to earn an undergraduate and law degree from Harvard and then went on to a distinguished career as a lawyer in private practice and well-respected public servant.￼