PARK SLOPE — Mayor Bill de Blasio went to the gym to work out after a firefighter was shot by a reputed gang leader who had barricaded himself in his Staten Island home Friday morning and set off a smoke grenade.
The mayor worked out for at least 80 minutes at the Park Slope Y, his aides said, and was there for at least an hour and 40 minutes, as the NYPD was in a tense standoff that ended in the suspect's death.
Mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton said that the mayor had been on the phone with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro since shortly after the standoff began.
Those phone calls affected the time de Blasio arrived at the gym.
"He might work out at 7 a.m. or he might work out at 8 a.m., it depends on what happens in the morning," Hinton said. "This morning, it was later than normal because he was on the phone at Gracie Mansion dealing with this issue."
De Blasio went on with his schedule while awaiting word from Bratton and Nigro about whether he should be at the scene or the hospital, she added.
"He stayed with his normal schedule because he was waiting for both commissioners to tell him to come and he did when they did so," said Hinton who defended de Blasio's decision to not respond to questions about his whereabouts.
De Blasio brushed off a question about his decision to go to the gym during the standoff.
"We're briefing you all on a very serious situation, and that's not a serious question," de Blasio said at a press conference about the incident at the 121st Precinct in Staten Island.
"A fireman could have lost his life and any number of police could have as well," Hinton later added. "It's a serious matter and asking a question about the gym was not appropriate."
Garland Tyree, 38, a member of the Bloods gang 9 Trey, was armed with an assault rifle inside his home at 15 Destiny Court, near Harbor Road, at around 6 a.m., when U.S. Marshals came to arrest him.
Police had entered the home when Tyree set off a smoke grenade, causing them to retreat.
Lt. James Hayes, 53, a 13-year FDNY veteran of Staten Island's Engine 158, was shot in the left calf and left buttock when he entered the home to investigate the cause of the smoke, Nigro said.
Tyree was still barricaded in the home at 11:09 a.m. when NY 1 City Hall reporter Grace Rauh tweeted that de Blasio had been in the gym for two hours.
Rauh later tweeted that it appeared that de Blasio had slipped out a side entrance even though he usually exits the gym through the front door.
An employee at Colson Patisserie, which is located near the Y on 9th Street and Sixth Avenue, said the mayor had also been there.
Current and former city officials questioned de Blasio's judgment, especially after a rough few weeks where he battled criticism that the city did not do enough about the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the South Bronx, feuded with the governor, and took a hit in the polls after a bruising fight with Uber.
“Even the Emperor Nero attempted to put the fire out in Rome; contrary to the rumors that he was responsible for causing it," said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. "If true I am once again saddened for all New Yorkers as to the lack of leadership from City Hall."
A former official who is close to the mayor said de Blasio was exhibiting "tone deaf behavior during the worst month of his political life."
A different former top official who worked closely with two mayors asked, “Why could anyone think it’s OK for him to be at a gym working out for two hours in the middle of the day and he is supposed to be running the city?”
Another former official who worked with Mayor Ed Koch and was involved in the city's response to several major crises, called the mayor's decision “unbelievable."
When Koch was mayor, he went to the gym at 5:30 a.m. and was usually in the office by 7 a.m. at the latest, the official added.
"Let him get up and go to the gym early in the morning like normal people," the official said.
It's not the first time de Blasio has caught public criticism for going to the Park Slope Y to exercise.
In December, de Blasio was criticized after the Village Voice spotted him working out at the Y during the wake for Herman Badillo, the country's first Puerto Rican born congressman.
Former mayors David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani attended the services for Badillo. The wife of the trailblazing Latino politician was insulted that de Blasio did not attend.
In April, he was driven by his security detail from Gracie Mansion to the Park Slope Y to work out hours before getting on the subway with Sen. Chuck Schumer to call for increased federal spending on transportation infrastructure.