EAST NEW YORK — A 6-year-old Brooklyn boy was stabbed to death and his playmate critically injured while the two rode their apartment elevator down to get an icy treat Sunday, police said.
The boy, Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, was chatting with his friend Mikayla Capers, 7, while on their way to get an ice cream, when the suspect demanded they stop talking about 5:50 p.m. inside the Boulevard Houses at 845 Schenck Ave., police and family said.
One of the kids spoke again and the suspect attacked, repeatedly stabbing the duo with a kitchen knife before running away, sources said. He remained at large on Monday, sources said.
"They took my little boy away from me," Nicholas Avitto, 56, the father of Prince or P.J., as he was known, said. "He could've been Einstein. He was very intelligent, curious, a learner. I'm going to miss him."
"I'm just so hurt," the grieving dad added.
Mikayla had tried to fend off the attacker, who chased after her when she bolted from the elevator when its doors opened on the ground floor, sources and family members said.
"The poor thing fought her little heart out. She fought for her life. She has defense wounds on her hands," said the girl's great grandmother, Regenia Trevathan, 62.
Prince's body was discovered when the doors opened again on the fourth floor, sources said.
Prince, whose birthday is June 17, was taken to nearby Brookdale Hospital and pronounced dead, police said.
"Seeing that baby lay there in that hospital bed and his body had to be covered to not expose the knife wounds to his body, let me tell you, that struck the heart," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Monday.
Both of the children's families had waited anxiously at the hospital Sunday night, relatives said.
"When the doctor said to [Prince's mom], 'I'm sorry, your son didn't make it,' everyone lost it. I think I hit the floor," Trevathan said.
Mikayla was initially taken to Brookdale, but was transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital, where she was in critical condition Monday, an NYPD spokesman said.
"She was able to open her eyes. She wanted some water," the girl's great grandmother said.
"I don't know what monster would do something like this. This is just awful. This is unreal."
The attacker, whom police described as a heavy-set man wearing a gray sweatshirt, fled the scene and ditched the bloody kitchen knife outside the Schenck Avenue apartments, an NYPD spokesman said.
Police believe that the attack is related to another stabbing the happened in East New York on Friday evening. Tanaya Copeland, 18, was found dead at 864 Stanley Ave. four blocks from the Boulevard Houses about 10:30 p.m. with multiple knife wounds to her body.
Investigators were still trying to figure out why the suspect was inside the Boulevard Houses to begin with, sources said. It wasn't clear if he lived there, was visiting someone or if he was there for some other reason.
At a vigil Monday night in front of the Boulevard Houses, Avito wept over the loss of his son and struggled for ways to cope with the pain.
He said that he would walk the child to school every day, but Monday he carried the boy's backpack instead.
"I took his backpack today. I was talking to an invisible boy who wasn't there. It gave me some peace. I hope they catch this guy," he said. "He was the best part of me. My backbone. My boy is gone. My boy is dead."
There were no cameras in the building to record the suspect, according to the New York City Housing Authority, which operates the apartment complex.
Officials said NYCHA planned to install cameras in the building.
A $5,000 reward was offered for information leading to the suspect's arrest, Adams said.
"This is unacceptable," Adams said. "Every piece of information is part of a puzzle of bringing this sick mind to justice."