Gunfire erupts at opening of NY arts and music festival

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An early morning shooting on Monday has left two people dead ahead of the J’Ouvert Festival in Brooklyn opening.

The West Indian arts and music festival is known to produce bouts of violence, and this began early as food vendors set up their stands in Crown Heights at about 5 a.m. on Union Street between Utica and Schenectady Avenues.

The New York Post reports that Barkim Gardener, 52, was setting up for his annual family barbecue on Union Street when he suddenly heard two gunshots over the music.

“I saw people running from Schenectady Avenue towards Utica Avenue. It was chaos,” Gardener said.

He further recalled, “This lady held on to my hand and we ran across the street and ducked behind a truck … It’s Labor Day and everybody is having a nice time and people just want to get stupid.”

A 38-year-old man had been shot in the stomach and a 34-year-old was grazed in the leg by a bullet. The victims said they heard gunshots and felt pain, simultaneously.

The two victims’ injuries weren’t egregious and each made it to a separate hospital by private means. The 38-year-old man went to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, while the 34-year-old was treated at Kings County Hospital.

The city shortened the hours of the festival this year, changing the pre-parade party time from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. in an attempt to curb the violence.

“It should have made it better, but I guess not,” Gardener said of the time change.

And there was even more violence to go around.

Earlier, on Sunday night, a 49-year-old man took a bullet to the head at around 9 p.m. on Herkimer Street. Another shooting happened at St. Johns Place at around 11:15 p.m. when a 44-year-old was shot in the torso and critically wounded, police officers said.

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