A 43-year-old member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration was in critical condition after he was shot in the head early Monday, as pre-West Indian Parade events turned violent overnight, police said.
Carey Gabay, a former assistant council to Cuomo, got caught in the crossfire during a large dispute between two gangs at about 3:40 a.m. on Bedford Avenue, between Sullivan Place and Montgomery Street, authorities said.
Gabay was shot once in the head and appeared to be an "unintended target," said Patrick Conry, who oversees the NYPD's Brooklyn detectives, speaking from a Crown Heights park at a pre-parade news conference. A firearm was recovered from the scene.
Gabay, who was hit when 8 to 10 bullets were fired, was taken to Kings County Hospital in critical condition, Cuomo said.
"We do have some leads we're following," Conry said. "Based on ballistics evidence recovered it appears that there are two groups of people shooting back and forth at each other."
Gabay and his wife, Trenelle, are expecting their first child, Cuomo said, adding he is "so beautiful, so giving, so kind." He was out enjoying the annual J'Ouvert Festival with his family when he was shot, Cuomo said.
Gabay grew up in public housing in the Bronx, Cuomo said, and lived the "American dream," attending Harvard. He joined the administration in 2011 and was currently serving as the first deputy general counsel at Empire State Development.
"He worked for the state because he wanted to give back, and he wanted to do the right thing," Cuomo said. "It's so painful, so unnecessary, so sad.
"I'm governor of New York, and there's nothing I can say and there's nothing I can do," he added. "And sometimes it just hurts."
The violence following the J'Ouvert Festival didn't stop there. A 24-year-old man was fatally stabbed in the torso and a 21-year-old man was shot in the buttocks, but was expected to survive, in an unrelated incident, police said.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there are "very active criminal investigations" into all of the overnight violence, but it was not necessary to cancel the festival for future years.
"It's unfortunate that they occurred during this event, but there is no reason to not go forward with the events each year," he said. "And each year we try to make them safer. And each year the community works even more closely with us to that end."
On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio commended Gabay for his public service.
"It's a sad day because just as we were all coming here we learned about this good young man who is now fighting for his life," de Blasio said. "So it's definitely a bittersweet day at this point."
Public Advocate Letitia James said the "joyous occasion was marred" by the violence throughout the evening.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the young man who was killed, and with the victims for whom we wish a speedy recovery," James said in a statement. "We must stand strong as a community in the face of such violence."
By Monday afternoon the parade had kicked off with many revelers wearing the flags of their respective nations draped around their shoulders as capes: Jamaica, Barbados, Haiti, the U.S. Virgin Islands and more. Others "playing mas," or masquerade, wore bright neon feathers in their headdresses and at their elbows and knees. Men and women wore skin-baring costumes that included jewel-encrusted bras or heavily sequined silk shorts.
New York City's first lady Chirlane McCray, who has roots in Barbados, said, "Today is a day for celebration."