In an emotional plea, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Saturday eulogized Carey Gabay, a lawyer in his administration killed by a stray bullet on a Brooklyn street, and said the "senseless and brutal murder" should be the final lesson to strengthen federal gun laws to save "innocent lives."
Gabay's death "was one of the most tragic pointless examples of the rampant violence that is spreading like a cancer through our society," Cuomo said at the Emmanuel Baptist Church on Lafayette Avenue near downtown Brooklyn. It is time, he said, "to take a stand."
Citing the flow of weapons to New York from states with laxer gun laws, he said, "this nation's leaders have to show the resolve to end this scourge once and for all and demand real gun control nationwide."
Mourners paid their last respects to the 43-year-old state lawyer who was shot in the head when caught in the crossfire of a gang-related gun battle during predawn festivities for the West Indian Day Parade on Sept. 7. Police have not made an arrest. Mayor Bill de Blasio, former city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Cuomo's girlfriend, Sandra Lee, were among the attendees.
Cuomo lambasted Republicans and "the far right" who do not support gun control laws and who want "to shut down the government because they don't get a tax cut for the rich. He suggested Democrats who support gun control "have the same resolve and threaten to shut down the government if they don't get a real gun control law to stop the killing of the innocent."
Cuomo evoked Pope Francis' ministry of nonviolence, justice and peace on the just-concluded papal visit to New York, and spoke of Gabay's life story -- rising from a poor childhood in a Bronx public-housing project to go to Harvard on full scholarship and become a lawyer serving the public good.
"I never asked Pope Francis why Carey Gabay was taken. But then again over the past two days, I heard the pope repeatedly speak about a young man who grew up in poverty and raised himself up and lived a life of love and selflessness; a life based in principle and sacrifice and values; a life of innocence and love; a life that was taken wrongfully, violently and tragically," said Cuomo.
Gabay who worked with Cuomo for four years before moving onto the Empire State Development Corp., an agency that promotes economic growth, was dedicated to providing affordable housing to the poor and laws that prohibit job discrimination, Cuomo said.
"He was the American dream ... He had a smile that lit up New York," said Cuomo, who spoke to reporters after the private funeral service. "I grieve at a personal level. He was the nicest, sweetest person."
Gabay left behind his wife, Trenelle, his mother Audrey, his sisters Crystal and Stephanie, and brother Aaron. A gofundme.com site, the Carey Gabay Fund, has been set up to help his family.