Even after the arrest and indictment of Daniel St. Hubert in the tragic stabbing of two children last month in East New York’s Boulevard Housing complex, there is still a feeling of tension in the neighborhood. An aura of unease still shrouds the community.
Residents say that it’s primarily because there are questions yet to be answered. Although St. Hubert was indicted on second-degree murder and attempted murder charges Wednesday, June 11, for the stabbing death of Prince Joshua Avitto, age 6, and the attempted stabbing death of Mikayla Capers, age 7, authorities are still trying to link him to the stabbing death of Tanaya Grant-Copeland, age 18.
“The community still is not sure if the same man killed both children,” activist A.T. Mitchell, founder and executive director of Man Up! Inc., tells the Amsterdam News. “So we don’t know if there is one killer or two.”
Community leadership, such as Mitchell’s, continues to help East New York residents in the healing process by distributing posters and cards that spread the community message of solidarity, holding emergency town hall-style meetings and remaining alert to keep the neighborhood’s children safe. Despite the adversity, the community has been able to prevent further upheaval.
“We’ve all been watching the children to and from school, and local parks–areas that attract the most attention,” assures Mitchell.
Working alongside the police and not for the police has been a point of emphasis for Man Up! “The NYPD supplied more command centers and crime-stopper vehicles,” Mitchell affirmed when asked how attentive the NYPD was to their needs. “The police promptly disseminated information whenever the community requested it, distributing the suspect’s composite sketch, while simultaneously listening to the community’s leadership on how best to police East New York going forward.
“I am very pleased with how the NYPD have handled the situation. Chief Phillip Banks was on the case from the inception. The police were on site with families and at the hospital with the children. We’ve (also) worked well with Chief Gerald Nelson and Inspector Steven Capasso.”
Mitchell acknowledges how East New York has risen above the incident to make something better of a terrible situation. “The community was divided in the past. This tragedy has brought us together. Clergy, community activists, politicians, the community at large and the NYPD have all come together.”
Mitchell added, “Since the capture, there’s been a 50 perecent change in the community. Until confirmation [that the suspect in custody is actually guilty] the job is only half done.”
At the service for Avitto, the Rev. David Brawley, the pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York, shared his condolences.
“I’m equally sad about what happened to this community and this family and this child,” Brawley said. “We must acknowledge that his life was ended way too soon. But there’s no way we should be comfortable with what happened. You should not be comfortable in this community until our children have safe spaces.”