NEW YORK (AP) – Hours before the West Indian Day Parade stepped off today, police reported multiple shootings – one of them deadly – near the route for the political see-and-be-seen event, which has been scarred by violence in recent years.
Police said they were taking steps to ensure the parade remains safe this year, including keeping tabs on any gang activity.
A 55-year-old man was shot to death at 3:30 a.m. in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights, according to police. A suspect was in custody; charges were pending.
It was one of several shootings reported in the vicinity before the 11 a.m. parade start, police said. They are still gathering details on the others.
Last year, two people were fatally stabbed at the parade, and a man was shot to death in 2011.
The parade celebrates Caribbean culture and echoes traditional pre-Lenten Carnival festivities, with dancers wearing elaborate, feathered costumes.
The event also provides one of the last big stages before New York’s September 9 primary elections.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is this year’s grand marshal, but plenty of other political faces are expected in the line-up, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who is of Caribbean decent.
In the past, organisers say more than a million people watched the parade.