EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (PIX11) — After two children were stabbed, one of them fatally, in the elevator of a Brooklyn housing development, residents renewed their longstanding demands that surveillance cameras be added to the complex.
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday said 17 cameras are finally coming to the Boulevard Houses — almost a year after the city secured funding for the electronics eyes. But even though those cameras have now been given a green light, they’re not expected to be up and running until at least October.
Regarding the delay of their installation, de Blasio both laid blame and took responsibility.
“The previous administration dropped the ball in a very big way,” the mayor said at a midday news conference at the Boulevard Houses community center. He also said that his administration had fallen short.
Prince Joshua “P.J.” Avitto, 6, was killed, and his best friend, Mikayla Capers, 7, was severely hurt by a knife-wielding man inside a Boulevard Houses elevator nearly two weeks ago.
Capers had been in critical condition, but was released from the hospital on Wednesday. On the same day, a recently released prison inmate with a history of mental problems, 27-year-old Daniel St. Hubert was formally indicted for the crime.
Critics of the slow-moving initiative to install cameras in the housing development decried the lack of surveillance, saying it could have led to a fast arrest, or may have even prevented the deadly June 1 attack.
At the Wednesday news conference, city comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council member Inez Barron and other elected officials pointed out that while the Boulevard Houses security cameras have been long in coming, it’s by no means the worst such case.
After NYPD officer Brian Groves was shot in the Seward Park Houses on the Lower East Side in 2012, the city’s housing agency, NYCHA, had said it would install security cameras in the complex. According to Stringer, those cameras are still not in place.
Also, in 2009, the city approved money for cameras to be installed in the Pink Houses in Brooklyn. Those cameras were not set up and turned on until last year.
“We have to do better than this,” exclaimed Inez Rodriguez, president of the tenants association at Boulevard Houses. She also called for building doors in her complex to be replaced and for further security enhancements.
First, though, Boulevard Houses needs its cameras. At the news conference, NYCHA leaders said that it will take up to four months for the cameras to be operable. An extensive wiring system and control center have to be set up in order to connect all nine buildings in the complex. That task may not be completed until October, according to city officials.
However, de Blasio told PIX11 News that he hopes to move that earlier, if at all possible. He also said that he intends to eventually have security cameras in all of the city’s public housing complexes.
In a related development, Barron said that paperwork had been filed to officially name the intersection of Schenck and Stanley avenues Prince P.J. Avitto Corner.