NEW YORK – An aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo was fighting for his life Tuesday, a day after being caught in the crossfire between two gangs in Brooklyn.
Carey Gabay, a first deputy general counsel at the Empire State Development Corp., was shot in the head during a pre-dawn party celebrating the West Indian Day parade.
Police called Gabay an unintended victim of an exchange of more than two dozen shots from up to three guns at 3:40 a.m. Monday near the parade route. Investigators were still searching for the shooters on Tuesday.
In a statement, Gabay's family said he was in a coma and "surrounded by his loved ones" at a Brooklyn hospital.
"Our family is thankful for the outpouring of prayers that we've received in the aftermath of this senseless violence," the family said. "Carey has always been an inspiration to all of us and he continues to inspire us with his fight for survival."
Cuomo called the 43-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer "an outstanding public servant" who joined his administration in 2011.
"There have been no developments that have been positive," Cuomo told reporters on the plane ride home from Puerto Rico, which he visited to discuss ways New York could help the U.S. territory's economic crisis. "Apparently the damage was quite extensive."
Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters that investigators were focusing on two gangs whose members are well-known to the New York Police Department.
"I'm very confident that we will solve that crime," Bratton said.
The shooting was one of several outbursts of violence in the neighborhoods surrounding the parade, including the fatal stabbing of a 24-year-old man. Police arrested a suspect in a separate shooting that occurred shortly before Gabay was wounded.
Cuomo pushed through a 2013 gun control law in New York in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school massacre. He supports stronger gun laws on the federal level and called Gabay's shooting "the latest heartbreaking reminder that the crime of gun violence must stop. Enough young, innocent people have died, and it must stop now."
Bloodshed before or after the West Indian Day celebration has become a sadly familiar part of the parade routine. Last year, a recent parolee opened fire into a crowd of revelers, killing one man and wounding several others. And in 2013, a 1-year-old boy sitting in his stroller was killed by a bullet meant for his father.
Asked about the future of the parade, Bratton responded: "The political leadership, the community leadership, the communities themselves want that celebration. They've made that quite clear. ... So we will work to the best of our ability to deal with the elements in that community that engage in that violence."