NEW YORK — Mikayla Capers and her best friend, Prince Joshua Avitto, wanted to get Icees. The two hopped in an elevator on Sunday at the Brooklyn housing project where they lived. A man got on after them, pulled out a knife and stabbed the children, the police said, in an attack that left residents stunned.
Deputy Chief Patrick Conry said the two children — the 6-year-old-boy and the 7-year-old girl — were stabbed shortly before 6 p.m. at the Boulevard Houses on Schenck Avenue in East New York. Police officials said they did not believe the children were related to each other or to the assailant, a man who Conry said fled on foot and who was described as heavyset and in his 20s.
The boy was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, where the girl had been in critical condition before she was transferred to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
No arrest had been made Sunday, and the police recovered a knife at the scene.
Sophia Diaz lived near the boy, who was known in the neighborhood as P.J. She was inside her apartment when she heard someone call her, saying that Mikayla had been stabbed. She rushed outside and saw the girl bloodied, then heard screams about P.J. also being stabbed.
“‘Did P.J. die?,’’’ she said the girl asked Diaz’s sister in the ambulance. “‘Why did this man hurt me?’’’ Diaz’s sister said Mikayla was stabbed in the chest and had cuts on her hand.
Conry spoke briefly at a news conference at the scene that Police Commissioner William J. Bratton attended. People gathered at the scene were embracing one another, crying and shaking their heads.
“That mother lost a child, but we all lost a child,’’ said Clara Woods, the vice president of the Boulevard Houses Tenant Association. “This is a happy little boy. This is a pleasant little girl. They were going to get an Icee on a nice warm day,’’ she said in disbelief. “When something happens to one, it happens to us all.’’
Lemar King described Mikayla as a niece. She lives with her aunt, who was in their apartment at the time, King said.
“She loves to draw and she’s a chatterbox — talking, talking, talking, talking,’’ he said.
The children had been best friends since they were toddlers and had grown up together in the Boulevard Houses, he said. The girl was visiting P.J.
Kevin Velez, a neighbor, described seeing the boy’s mother run after his ambulance and bang on the door, begging to be allowed to ride with him. The medics would not let her in, he said.
Diaz drove the boy’s mother to the hospital. After the mother was told that P.J. had died, she asked to see his body. When she saw that the boy had stab wounds in his neck, she began hugging him. “‘He was just a baby. He was just a baby,’’’ she cried, according to Diaz.
“To see them come out and tell her he didn’t make it — ’’ Diaz started sobbing. “His birthday is June 17. He didn’t even make it to seven years old. How could a grown man who was as big as they say he is find it in his heart to do that them? When P.J. is only 40, 50 pounds?’’
Velez’s daughter, Ciaralyn, said the children were her playmates. The girl likes to jump rope; the boy liked pretending he was a superhero. “I feel really heartbroken right now, because they were my friends,’’ she said.