EAST NEW YORK — A 7-year-old girl, who was critically wounded when a mentally ill ex-con stabbed her and killed her friend, left the hospital Wednesday as the mayor announced plans to install over a dozen new surveillance cameras in the East New York housing complex where the kids were attacked.
Mikayla Capers was released from New York-Presbyterian/Columbia 10 days after she was attacked, along with Prince Joshua "P.J." Avitto, 6, inside an elevator at the Boulevard Houses, which had no cameras inside to record the suspect, officials said.
"She's in good spirits. She's talking. She's progressing. It's day to day," said Mikayla's 43-year-old grandfather, Surroy Capers.
"Family got her through this. Everyone loves her and is there for her," Capers added.
Neighbors were initially outraged to learn that the building where the attack took place, 845 Schenck Ave., had no cameras inside. But after Mikayla was released from the hospital Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to install 18 cameras in nine buildings in the complex by October.
"That should've been done over four years ago already. It took for my son to lose his life and Mikayla to be injured for the rest of her life for this to happen. It's just sad," said P.J.'s mother, Aricka McClinton, 42.
De Blasio said the instillation process had long been in the works, but was delayed by bureaucracy and the skewed priorities of the previous administration.
"We’ve all been taught a very, very painful lesson. But we have to take that moment and now act and rise above. We owe it to these children," the mayor said during a Wednesday press conference.
The city paid $27 million to install the new cameras in 49 public housing developments around the city including the Fort Independence Houses, Pelham Parkway Houses, Bailey Houses, Latimer Gardens and Baisley Park, de Blasio said.
The man suspected of the attack that spurred the security scramble, 27-year-old Daniel St. Hubert, was arrested June 5 and his indictment was unsealed Wednesday on charges of murder, attempted murder, assault and weapons possession, officials said.
He was previously released from prison on May 23 after doing five years for choking his mother unconscious with an electrical cord and punching a corrections officer, records show. During his imprisonment, he was put under mental health supervision three times, according to the city department of correction.
Investigators were still trying to determine if St. Hubert was behind a June 4 stabbing on a Chelsea subway platform that sent a homeless man to the hospital and another East New York attack that killed 18-year-old nursing student Tanaya Copeland, sources said.
As police continue to investigate, the relatives of those who were hurt in the recent attacks have only their grief. Copeland's funeral was held on Wednesday. And P.J.'s mom is still trying to figuring out how to interact with her dead son's old friend.
"She does not want to see me because seeing me, you know what that would do to her? She's been with me since she was a baby too. These kids grew up together. Mikayla taught Prince how to walk," McClinton said.
"It's too hard. She was there, she made it out. So why didn't her best friend make it out?" she added.