6-year-old boy among 5 people shot during Brooklyn J'Ourvet celebration

A blood-stained sidewalk and clothing behind police tape in the Crown Heights section Brooklyn on Monday, September 7, 2020.

(CNN)A 6-year-old boy who was shot in the leg was among five people injured in a shooting that occurred during a celebration that has often been marred by violence.

The boy and four others were in a crowd in Brooklyn during J'Ourvet, a celebration of West Indian heritage that takes place before dawn followed by the West Indian Day Parade on Labor Day in New York.
However, the parade was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Investigators are now trying to find the gunman and determine why they shot into the crowd, the official said.
    "More than likely, the people shot were not the intended targets," said a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation, adding that the area has experienced heavy gang activity.
    Shootings have been on the rise in New York City since the start of the summer, driven mostly by gang activity related to turf battles and narcotics, NYPD officials have said. That's why police flooded the festival area, despite fewer events.
    The early morning shootings were the latest violence that has gripped the city since Covid-19's infection rate has dropped.
    So far this year there have been 1,054 shooting incidents and 1,288 victims -- that's almost twice as much as this time last year. There were just 556 incidents and 653 victims at this point in 2019, according to NYPD statistics.

    A violent history

    The J'Ourvet festival has had other incidents of violence.
    In 2015, Carey Gabay, an aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was killed as a bystander in the middle of a gang shootout. Gabay was shot in the head and taken to a nearby hospital. He died days later.
    Gabay's death prompted new safety measures for the festival.
    Since then, police have flooded the festival area with officers and reduced the start time from the early morning hours to 6 a.m.
    During past years, they also set up 13 checkpoints along the two-mile parade route where officers scanned for weapons and did not allow any alcohol or backpacks, the same as for New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square, NYPD officials have said.
    Despite there being no parade this year and no official public celebration, police officers patrolled the area during the overnight hours.
    "You'll see them in cars, you'll see them on foot, in uniform. And quite frankly, some members from other divisions may not be in uniform," said NYPD Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo at a news conference last Thursday. "And that's what the overarching goal [is] -- to keep every New Yorker safe."

    NYPD responds to shooting uptick

    Because of the rise in shootings, the NYPD has put extra police on patrols in high crime areas and shifted work schedules to better address the violence without dipping into their overtime budget.
    Members of the department's anti-crime team are back out on patrol looking for guns, except this time they're wearing uniforms and not in plain clothes, said Chief of Department Terrance Monahan at a news conference last Thursday.
    "This summer we have experienced a tidal wave of violence," Monahan said.
    Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD officials have said the violence has been sparked by what they called a perfect storm of factors.
    NYPD officers have been redeployed because of demonstrations and bail reform along with Covid-19, which has emptied jails.
    Data compiled by the city showed that of people released from jail because of Covid-19, only seven were rearrested for gun offenses. And though the total number of gun arrests for the city has been down overall, Monahan said that gun arrests for the month of August are up, 495 this year compared to 484 during all of August last year.
      Many of the shootings have stemmed from large gatherings where gambling or drinking sometimes deteriorates into violence, police officials said.
      Monahan said that if police can get more guns off the street, "then we will hopefully start seeing a dip in this extremely violent summer that we've had."