NEW YORK — Police searched Monday for a man who stabbed and killed one child and critically wounded another in an elevator at a city housing development in Brooklyn — a chilling crime that escaped the scrutiny of security cameras.
The New York Police Department flooded the East New York neighborhood with extra officers to help with the hunt and reassure frightened residents at the Boulevard Houses. Police described the assailant as a stranger who randomly attacked the 6-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl after the playmates began riding the elevator en route to get some ice cream from the boy’s sixth floor apartment.
“This is a particularly heinous crime,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said. “Two young children in an elevator with no place to escape, nothing at all, and some character gets on and just starts stabbing them? … (Residents) have every right to be concerned.”
He added: “We’re going to get this guy.”
With the proliferation in recent years of both police and private security cameras around the city — mostly in midtown Manhattan and the Wall Street area, but also at some housing projects — the NYPD routinely relies on video footage as a tool to solve violent crimes. But police officials said that there are no cameras at the Boulevard Houses and that they would have to rely on a sketch based on descriptions of people who saw a potential suspect running from the scene.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called the absence of security cameras at a building in a high-crime neighborhood “unconscionable.” The city’s housing authority has been criticized in the past for failing to use tens of millions of dollars already allocated for cameras to install them.
“If someone put graffiti in Times Square, you’d have hundreds of images of it,” Adams said. “Yet, in an area where crime is high, there are no cameras.”
Asked about the cameras, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the City Council would get an update on public housing security efforts later this week.
“The bottom line is, Commissioner Bratton was already in the process of moving a substantial number of police in the areas where we’ve been having troubles,” the mayor said following a separate event.
Before the attack around 6 p.m. Sunday, the boy and girl had been playing outside the housing project under adult supervision. According to relatives and witnesses, they went inside alone when they were cornered by a heavyset man in his 20s.
The man used a steak knife to stab each child multiple times, police said. He fled on foot, leaving the knife outside the building.
Officers summoned there found the boy, Prince Joshua Avitto, in the elevator and the other victim, Mikayla Capers, just outside the building, police said.
The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital. The girl remained in critical condition Monday.
Police were investigating whether the same man may have fatally stabbed an 18-year-old woman on Friday a few blocks away. A similar knife was recovered at the scene of that slaying.
Adams offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailant. He warned parents to keep a closer eye on their children “until this sick mind is caught.”