BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11/AP) – Hundreds of mourners said their final goodbye Friday to a little boy stabbed to death in the elevator of his East New York apartment building.
Prince Joshua “P.J.” Avitto, 6, was brutally attacked Sunday evening at a public housing development on Schenck Avenue, police said.
Avitto and his 7-year-old friend were inside an elevator when a knife-wielding man trapped them inside and stabbed the children multiple times. Avitto was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead. His friend remained in critical condition Friday.
The little boy’s funeral service was held Friday morning at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton attended a private wake before the funeral, where some attendees wore white t-shirts emblazoned with the boy’s photo. Slideshows of the smiling child were displayed above the church’s main stage.
Every morning since the deadly attack, the victim’s father has tossed his son’s Spiderman backpack over his shoulder and walked the route to his son’s school, alone.
Through tears Thursday morning, Nicholas Avitto thanked the NYPD, local media and community members “for all the support” as he fights to cope with the loss of his son.
The tragedy sparked a citywide manhunt for whoever would commit such a heinous act against two children, and highlighted the lack of security, including cameras, in the public housing development where the young victim lived.
A recently released convict with at least nine prior arrests – including one for attempted murder – was arrested Wednesday evening, shortly after police used DNA found on a Dura Lock knife to identify a suspect in the slaying.
Daniel St. Hubert, 27, faces second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, and graffiti charges, according to the New York Police Department.
He was paroled May 23 – little more than a week before Avitto was killing – after being charged with domestic assault.
An angry crowd met St. Hubert outside an NYPD precinct in Williamsburg Thursday evening. The suspect winked at reporters as he was led, handcuffed, into a waiting unmarked police car.
Investigators believe the attack on the two children is linked to the slaying of 18-year-old Tanya Copeland, whose lifeless body was found two days before Avitto and his friend were ambushed, and just a few blocks away. Copeland had been stabbed repeatedly, police said.
Police are questioning St. Hubert in connection with a third stabbing that happened Wednesday morning on the 18th Street subway station in Chelsea.