Brooklyn Community on Edge as Search Continues for Suspect in Boy's Stabbing | NBC New York

Brooklyn Community on Edge as Search Continues for Suspect in Boy's Stabbing



    (Published Wednesday, June 4, 2014)

    A Brooklyn community remains on edge as police continue to hunt the suspect in the deadly stabbing of a 6-year-old boy, and Mayor Bill de Blasio is blasting the city's housing agency for an "unacceptable bureaucracy" that contributed to a lack of security cameras in the building where the boy was killed. 

    Police have said that the boy, Prince Joshua Avitto, and a friend, a 7-year-old girl, were riding in an elevator in Brooklyn's Boulevard Houses to get ice cream on Sunday evening when they were randomly attacked by a knife-wielding man.

    The boy, known as PJ, was killed; the girl, Mikayla Capers, was critically injured. Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson has said Prince was his cousin.

    There were no cameras in the elevator or elsewhere in the building to capture an image of the children's attacker, who remains at large. Witnesses told police they saw a man fleeing the scene.

    Search Continues for Suspect in Stabbing Death of Boy, 6

    [NY] Search Continues for Suspect in Stabbing Death of Boy, 6
    As the search continues for a man suspected of stabbing two children, the father of the 6-year-old killed in the attack said he recognized a police sketch of the suspect. Mayor de Blasio said the city's Housing Authority had the money for cameras for months and did not add them. Andrew Siff reports.
    (Published Tuesday, June 3, 2014)

    The boy's father said he recognized the suspect depicted in a police sketch Monday. 

    "I recognized that individual, I seen him in our hallways," said Nicholas Avitto. "That's the guy, and he's homeless. He might be in a shelter."

    He later told NBC 4 New York, "That guy sleeps in my hallway... I give him a quarter, a dollar. That was the last person on my mind that I think would have done that."

    Man Who Stabbed Kids May Have Killed Teen

    [NY] Man Who Stabbed Kids May Have Killed Teen
    Police are looking for a man who attacked two children in an elevator, stabbing a 6-year-old boy to death and critically injuring a 7-year-old girl, in what appeared to be a random attack days after he may have also brutally stabbed a teenager nearby. Ida Siegal reports.
    (Published Tuesday, June 3, 2014)

    As he was speaking with NBC 4 New York, Avitto received a phone call that turned out to be from de Blasio. He was in tears as he spoke with the mayor, saying, "I can't see my baby no more." 

    Avitto recounted the conversation, "He has vowed -- and my community people have vowed -- to catch this guy." 

    De Blasio, a Democrat who took office in January, criticized the city's housing authority for not spending the $27 million still available in its budget for security improvements including cameras. He said the money could install cameras in nearly 50 housing developments.

    "I think it's unacceptable bureaucracy, it's as simple as that," de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday after an unrelated event in Queens.

    He criticized his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for not doing more to safeguard public housing but added that his own administration had not acted swiftly to fix things.

    "I think we had a bad history that this administration should have immediately addressed, and we didn't address it quickly enough," he said. "The buck stops with me. And I've ordered all these cameras put in place this year."

    A spokesman for Bloomberg declined to comment.

    The New York City Housing Authority, known as NYCHA, has come under fire at other times in recent years for sitting on money that could have been used for security improvements. The installation of the cameras in the Boulevard Houses was approved on Monday, a day after the fatal stabbing.

    De Blasio appointed a new head of NYCHA, Shola Olatoye, in February. The agency said in a statement Tuesday it was "committed to executing the mayor's plan to accelerate approvals, and we will also work to expedite much-needed security upgrades, meeting newly announced timelines."

    Police are investigating whether the knife-wielding man also may have fatally stabbed an 18-year-old woman on Friday a few blocks from the Boulevard Houses. A similar knife was recovered at the scene of that slaying.

    Meanwhile, neighbors in East New York were still shaken. A young boy told reporters early Tuesday: "Before this happened, I used to go places by myself, people's houses. I can't do that anymore." 

    Sheena Anderson said she's "living in fear."

    "There wasn't a child in sight outside in the park," she said. "My daughter can't even go outside to play. It's frightening." 

    A $63,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the stabbings.

    -- ida Siegal, Andrew Siff and Tracie Strahan contributed to this report. 

    Get the latest from NBC 4 New York anywhere, anytime

    • Download the App

      Available for IOS and Android