NEW YORK (AP) — The lack of security cameras in a public housing building where a boy was stabbed to death stemmed from an “unacceptable bureaucracy” at the city’s housing agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
Police have said that the 6-year-old boy and a friend, a 7-year-old girl, were riding in an elevator in Brooklyn’s Boulevard Houses to get ice cream on Sunday evening when they were randomly attacked by a knife-wielding man. The boy, Prince Joshua Avitto, was killed; the girl, Mikayla Capers, was critically injured. Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson has said Prince was his cousin.
There were no cameras in the elevator or elsewhere in the building to capture an image of the children’s attacker, who remains at large. Witnesses told police they saw a man fleeing the scene.
De Blasio, a Democrat who took office in January, criticized the city’s housing authority for not spending the $27 million still available in its budget for security improvements including cameras. He said the money could install cameras in nearly 50 housing developments.
“I think it’s unacceptable bureaucracy, it’s as simple as that,” de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday after an unrelated event in Queens.
He criticized his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, for not doing more to safeguard public housing but added that his own administration had not acted swiftly to fix things.
“I think we had a bad history that this administration should have immediately addressed, and we didn’t address it quickly enough,” he said. “The buck stops with me. And I’ve ordered all these cameras put in place this year.”
A spokesman for Bloomberg declined to comment.
The New York City Housing Authority, known as NYCHA, has come under fire at other times in recent years for sitting on money that could have been used for security improvements. The installation of the cameras in the Boulevard Houses was approved on Monday, a day after the fatal stabbing.
De Blasio appointed a new head of NYCHA, Shola Olatoye, in February. The agency said in a statement Tuesday it was “committed to executing the mayor’s plan to accelerate approvals, and we will also work to expedite much-needed security upgrades, meeting newly announced timelines.”
Police are investigating whether the knife-wielding man also may have fatally stabbed an 18-year-old woman on Friday a few blocks from the Boulevard Houses. A similar knife was recovered at the scene of that slaying.