NEW YORK - The fatal stabbing of a little boy and the stabbing of a little girl in a New York City elevator on Monday could be related to another violent incident from a few days ago, police said.
Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, near where the stabbing took place, and Mikayla Capers, 7, was taken from Brookdale to Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, according to police and published reports.
Neither Columbia nor Brookdale said they had a record of Mikayla being there, but Columbia said it was possible she was still being transferred to a floor or department. Earlier reports had Mikayla was listed in critical condition.
Prince is the cousin of Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, who posted on Instagram, "They killed my little super man. #rippj only two more weeks until your 7 birthday. Tears forever ... this can't be life #foreversuperman #babycuzz ... "
Both children were taking an elevator in a public housing complex upstairs to Prince's home to get ice cream, police said. In the elevator, an unidentified man in his 20s stabbed each youngster multiple times with a steak knife, according to police.
Police note that someone fatally stabbed an 18-year-old woman on Friday not far from Monday's stabbings.
"The two are indeed close together (in geographical proximity), however, the investigation is ongoing," Officer George Tsourovakas said.
The police department has flooded the East New York section of Brooklyn in search of the suspect. The agency hopes to reassure frightened residents.
"This is a particularly heinous crime," Police Commissioner William Bratton said. "Two young children in an elevator with no place to escape, nothing at all, and some character gets on and just starts stabbing them? … (Residents) have every right to be concerned."
The children had been playing outside unsupervised when they went inside to get the ice cream and the man cornered them in the elevator, police said. After the incident, the suspect fled on foot and left behind the knife.
Police summoned to the scene found the little boy in the elevator and the little girl outside of the building.
"We're going to get this guy," Bratton said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said after an event Monday that Mikayla was receiving "exceptional care." He added, "We are hoping and praying that she can pull through."