(NYS Office of the Governor)
Carey Gabay, a former associate at Jones Day; Schulte Roth & Zabel; and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, is on life support Tuesday, a day after being shot in the head during pre-dawn partying before New York’s West Indian American Day Carnival Parade.
Gabay, 43, was walking with his brother in Brooklyn at 3:40 a.m. when he was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related dispute. The Harvard Law School graduate was struck by a stray bullet as he sought to take cover. Gabay, now in critical condition at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, is first deputy general counsel for the Empire State Development Corp., New York’s economic development arm.
A press release by the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo states that Gabay was hired in January. He spent the previous four years as assistant counsel to Cuomo, having been a banking and finance associate at Jones Day from 2007 through 2009 and a structured products associate at Schulte Roth from 2002 to 2007. New York state court records show that Gabay was admitted to the bar in 1999—he spent the early part of his career as an associate at Fried Frank.
On Tuesday, some of Gabay’s former colleagues expressed shock at the sudden tragedy.
“We are extremely saddened by the news. Carey is a part of the SRZ family, having spent several years at the firm,” said a statement by Schulte Roth executive committee chair Alan Waldenberg. “He is a terrific person and an excellent lawyer, and our thoughts are with him and his family during this difficult time.”
Mark Sisitsky, of counsel at Jones Day in New York, also once worked with Gabay. He said his phone “lit up” Monday as friends and colleagues contacted him in disbelief to discuss Gabay’s shooting.
“He was uniformly popular,” Sisitsky said of Gabay in an interview Tuesday. “Everybody knew him. Everybody liked him. He was a very special person.”
Sisitsky added that he saw the words “very sweet” used about Gabay in news reports following the shooting and that the words suited his personality and sense of collegiality perfectly.
“When we were down at lunch in the cafeteria and people were serving him, he was very solicitous toward them and he knew everyone’s name and everyone knew his name,” Sisitsky said. “He showed respect for them and he reciprocated.”
Sisitsky called Gabay’s shooting a “damned shame,” adding that “you just scratch your head and wonder why.”
Cuomo, who spoke with reporters before he marched in Monday’s West Indian Day Parade, praised Gabay as an example of the “American dream,” noting that his former staffer was the son of Jamaican immigrants who grew up in a housing project in the Bronx and opted for public service instead of working at a Wall Street firm. Gabay and his wife are currently expecting their first child.
“This tragic shooting—this one by another seemingly random bullet—is the latest heartbreaking reminder that the crime of gun violence must stop,” Cuomo said in a statement issued through his press office. “Enough young, innocent people have died, and it must stop now.”
David Miranda, president of the New York State Bar Association, decried the toll taken by random acts of gun violence in a statement Tuesday.
“The thoughts and prayers of our association and the legal community are with Carey Gabay and his family,” Miranda said. “It is time for us to engage in a thoughtful conversation about keeping Americans safer while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners.”
William Bratton, New York’s police commissioner, told reporters Tuesday that investigators are focusing on two gangs whose members are well-known to local officials. Bratton said that he’s confident that police will be able to solve the crime.
Late Tuesday, Gabay’s family released a statement through Kings County Hospital, which confirmed that he is in critical condition and a coma.
“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.”
Gabay’s relatives told reporters that he lost an older brother to gun violence during the 1990s.