New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is under fire for reportedly going to the gym before visiting a 30-year veteran firefighter who was shot by a gang leader.
Bloods gang leader Garland Tyree shot firefighter Lt. James Hayes twice in Marine’s Harbor, Staten Island, on Friday morning.
Hayes and a fire crew had responded to smoke coming from Tyree’s home after U.S. Marshals arrived there to arrest him for violating parole. Hayes was in conversation with Tyree for a few minutes through the door but eventually he stopped responding.
Hayes then forced his way into the building to see if Tyree was conscious. Tyree shot Hayes twice, with three other bullets missing him.
Hayes was taken to the hospital and a stand-off ensued with Tyree for six hours until he came out of the house wearing a bulletproof vest and firing an AK-47. Police returned fire, mortally wounding Tyree.
Before emerging from his home, Tyree posted to Facebook: “Today I die.”
De Blasio was questioned on Friday about why he went to the gym during the stand-off instead of going to see Hayes in the hospital, CBS New York reports.
“Mayor, there’s reports you were at the gym during this entire process, can you give any sort of –” a reporter said.
“We’re briefing you all on a very serious situation, and that’s just not a serious question,” de Blasio answered.
De Blasio’s press secretary, Karen Hinton, confirmed via Twitter that he was at the gym that morning.
De Blasio arrived at the hospital to see Hayes at noon, around six hours after he was shot. He went to the gym three hours after Hayes’ shooting for 80 minutes, at around 9 a.m.
The Daily Mail received an emailed statement from Hinton stating de Blasio heard about the shooting at 7 a.m. and left for Staten Island at 11:15 a.m.
“Mayor de Blasio was on calls with both Fire Commissioner Nigro and Police Commissioner Bratton about the situation on Staten Island throughout the morning, starting at 7 am, and he continued receiving multiple updates until he departed for Staten Island,” Hinton wrote. “This includes leaving the gym to make and take a series of calls from approximately 10[:]40 to 11[:]15, when he departed for Staten Island.
“The mayor has met with the wounded firefighter and his fellow firefighters at the hospital, and will soon update the media on both the situation on the ground in Staten Island and the wounded firefighter’s condition.”
“I think it’s very insensitive of him,” a Park Slope resident said of de Blasio. "His priorities, I think he should be with the family if possible."
Ed Mullins, the president of the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association and critic of de Blasio, was not happy about the mayor’s response.
“Even the Emperor Nero attempted to put the fire out in Rome; contrary to the rumors that he was responsible for causing it,” Mullins said.
“If true, I am once again saddened for all New Yorkers as to the lack of leadership from City Hall,” Mullins said. "Hopefully, much like the ashes of Rome, a more spectacular New York City will rise again.”
Hayes is in stable condition and it is expected he will make a full recovery.