New York City’s West Indian Festival J’Ouvert is a legendary staple in Brooklyn during Labor Day Weekend, but this year’s event ended in two brutal deaths.
Tiarah Poyau, a 22-year-old grad student, was gunned down early Monday morning at the Caribbean festival after allegedly telling a man to stop grinding against her. Police sources say that Poyau was shot at close range above her right eye while at the overnight celebration with three friends at 4:15 a.m. at Franklin Avenue and Empire Blvd.
Reginald Moise, 20, was taken into custody in connection with her death after he allegedly made statements that implicated himself to two people. Authorities say he was driving drunk and had a Caribbean flag wrapped around his bloodied hand when he was arrested on Tuesday morning. Moise, who has five prior sealed arrests, allegedly called a friend after the shooting and asked her, “Would you mind if I put my gun into your apartment?” He reportedly told another friend, “I think I shot somebody on the parade route. I didn’t know the gun was loaded.”
Police said they discovered the gun that killed Poyau at Moise’s girlfriend’s apartment, with tests confirming it matched a shell found at the murder site. NYPD Chief Patrick Conry said investigators believe Poyau, a St. John’s University student pursuing a dual degree, was not the intended target. Her friends all gave statements to detectives and did not see the shooter.
The deadly shootings of Tiarah Poyau and 17-year-old Tyreke Borel (who was shot by a stray bullet in a separate incident) cemented the J’Ouvert parade’s reputation for violence. In a news conference on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that “all options are on the table” when answering questions concerning the future of J’Ouvert and if it might be canceled following the two tragic deaths.
City Councilman Brad Lander said “it’s pretty clear that big changes are needed. I’m open to canceling it next year.”