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Mother of Brooklyn Stab Victim Finds Strength in Neighbors' Support

 Rochelle Copeland spoke to DNAinfo New York about her daughter, Tanaya Copeland, who was stabbed to death on May 30 while walking to meet up marching band mates in East New York. 
Rochelle Copeland
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EAST NEW YORK — While police have still yet to connect the stabbing death of 18-year-old Tanaya Copeland to Daniel St. Hubert, her mother has gained strength from her East New York community while planning her daughter’s funeral. 

Rochelle Copeland told DNAinfo New York that she has been “holding up pretty good” after the death of her daughter on May 30 just blocks away from where 6-year-old Prince Joshua “P.J.” Avitto was killed and 7-year-old Mikayla Capers was critically injured after Hubert allegedly stabbed them both dozens of times inside an elevator at the Boulevard Houses at 845 Schenck Ave. on June 1.

“I have a lot of support,” Rochelle said. “Strangers on the street want to hug me.”

The mother added that she was initially angered by some reports she felt portrayed her daughter negatively.

“My child was visiting a friend. Her life was taken from her. She wasn't a gang member. She wasn't a criminal. She wasn't on drugs. She was an innocent child who was doing something positive in her goddamn life,” Rochelle told reporters at a press conference outside the Boulevard Houses on June 2.

Tanaya was a nursing student at Long Island University in Brooklyn and played bass drum with the Royal Knights marching band.

"She fell in love with it," Knights leader Osie Smith told DNAinfo on June 4. "She really got competitive and she wanted to grow."

Tanaya was on her way to a surprise party for a band member when she was attacked on Stanley Avenue, according to her mother.

“All she did was play with her band,” Rochelle said Monday.

Hubert was charged with the murder of P.J. Avitto after some of his DNA was allegedly found on the knife used in the Boulevard Houses attack. 

Police also suspect he is responsible for stabbing a homeless man at a Chelsea subway station on June 4.

A wake for Tanaya will be held on Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bethlehem Baptist Church at 1962-64 Linden Boulevard. The funeral will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

She will be buried at the Cypress Hills Cemetery on Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Family and friends will meet in front of 1239 Stanley Ave. before heading to the cemetery.