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Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gun terror rocks Carib fest

Famed Brooklyn parade hit by city's violence wave

Was this a parade or a firing range?


Gunfire repeatedly rocked the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn yesterday -- even while Mayor Bloomberg marched nearby -- as the city's terrifying epidemic of shootings over the Labor Day weekend grew steadily worse.

The orgy of violence -- including seven fatalities among the 49 gunshot victims -- seemed to follow the revelers everywhere, from the parade route to nearby fast-food joints and even to their own homes.

In all, nine of the shooting victims were hit at or near the parade, the annual Caribbean-themed festival in Crown Heights, where a gunman had fired into the air only blocks from where Bloomberg had just begun marching.

picture 1
Photos: Paul Martinka
BEAUTIES AND BULLETS: Dancers yesterday display their charms at the West Indian Day Parade, where Mayor Bloomberg marched -- even as gunshots were fired just blocks away.
picture 2
james messerchmidt
VICTIM: Emergency medical personnel transport a man who was shot yesterday at the violence-marred West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn.
picture 3
G.N. MIller/NY Post
OUT OF CONTROL: A man suspected of firing shots at the parade is collared by police yesterday. The milk on his face was applied o rinse off pepper spray used to subdue him.

"[The gunman] shouted something, then 'boom!' Everyone ducked," said a witness, Marlene Anthony, adding that the young thug was standing at Rockaway Parkway and Clarkson Avenue - just blocks from the parade staging area. "It was a bad mix of alcohol, ignorance and a fool with a gun who tries to ruin the fun of the parade."

The gunman, Devon Stevens, 25, jumped into a livery cab, but went only a couple blocks before hopping out on East 94th Street at Winthrop Street, where he ditched the gun as cops gave chase, authorities said.

"I was out here sweeping and listening to music when I saw the police grab up this young man on the hood of this car," said an elderly resident on East 94th Street. "There were so many police chasing him."

Cops pepper-sprayed the Stevens.

Hours after the parade ended, an elderly woman was killed in the crossfire of a melee between cops and a gunman.

The parade had gotten off to a rocky start at 6 a.m., when a nearby McDonald's -- packed with 100 early risers prepping for the festivities -- was the site of a senseless shooting.

A customer Kenneth Beggs, 44, bumped into a man entering the Empire Boulevard eatery and apologized.

But Anthony Carruthers, 28, allegedly refused to let the incident go and pumped bullets into Beggs' legs.

"The bullet shattered the door, so everyone ran out the other door," said one McDonald's cook.

Tempers flared after parade ended, as well, with one reveler shot in front of a crowd on Eastern Parkway.

A group of six or seven men had pummeled the victim on the ground and then an attacker pulled out a handgun and shot him in the leg.

Before the gunman fled, he grabbed a pot of steaming rice from a food vendor and tossed it onto an onlooker.

Cops tackled the gunman. His victim is expected to survive.

The shocking 72-hour shooting tally came as police revealed that the number of people who took a bullet in the past week had skyrocketed.

For the week ending Sunday, a whopping 98 people had been shot -- nearly twice the 53 shot during the same week last year, the NYPD said.

Those injured last week were involved in 72 incidents, compared to 40 shoot-ups in the same week in 2010, according to the Police Department.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that although the number of shootings so far this year is fewer when compared to a decade ago, the spree of gunfire over the weekend is "obviously . . . cause for concern.

"We're doing everything we can do," added Kelly, who cited the NYPD's shifting of resources to target guns on the streets, including boosting overtime.

Some of the shootings were clearly "associated with the parade," Kelly said. "Quite frankly, this is something that does happen with this parade."

Bloomberg said, "It was a bad weekend, no question about that . . . There's just too many guns on the streets of this city. It's a national problem . . . because it's so easy to buy guns in other states, and just drive them in and sell them in the back of your car."

In all, at least 16 people were hit by bullets yesterday -- 15 of them in Brooklyn.

The exception, a 33-year-old man, was shot twice in the torso and once in the left arm at 11:48 a.m. in front of the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem.

Police yesterday also nabbed a suspect in another case, in which eight people were shot in The Bronx.

The man and a rival are suspected of engaging in a shootout that wounded the victims -- including 11-year-old Shaquan Walters -- at a house party early Sunday.

The man, Phillip Muir, 21, of Wilson Avenue in The Bronx, was caught at 2:15 a.m. by the NYPD during a car stop in Mount Vernon, in Westchester, with the assistance of police there.

The other alleged shooter, 17-year-old Oneil DaSilva of Mount Vernon, remains at large.

Additional reporting by Erin Calabrese, Larry Celona, Chuck Bennett, Wilson Dizard, Jessica Simeone, Christina Carrega, Georgett Roberts, Rebecca Harshbarger, G.N. Miller, Jennifer Bain and Kirstan Conley

Copyright 2011 NYP Holdings, Inc. Published Tuesday, September 6, 2011.


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