A heavy solemnity descended upon St. Paul’s Community Baptist Church Friday, June 6, as stabbing victim Prince Joshua Avitto was eulogized. In the chapel, as people came to pay respects to his family, Prince lay as if he were sleeping, in a crisp white suit, with a photo of his best friend Mikayla Capers in his left breast pocket. She had tried to fight off the killer and is still recovering from multiple stab wounds and a collapsed lung in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
The line to enter the 1,000-capacity church stretched along Hendrix Street, as a heartbroken community came out to send Prince home. Paying respects to the family before the service were Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlaine McCray, Comptroller Scott Stringer and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Staying for the service were elected officials and activists, including Council Member Inez Barron, forum Council Member Charles Barron, Public Advocate Leticia James, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York City Housing Authority chair Shola Olatoye and A.T. Mitchell, founder of Man Up!
Prince’s father, Nicholas, and uncle, Scott Avitto, were strong and steady as they addressed the congregation and celebrated the young man who the city has come to know.
Among the many accolades in Prince’s name, the Rev. David Brawley noted that the city will now place cameras, per resident request, in the housing projects. He made a difference. “We will not get over it,” Brawley boomed, “but we will get through it.”
The East New York crowd gasped and shouted Prince’s name when doves were released after the beautiful home-going service. Communal pain was only slightly eased by the knowledge that one Daniel St. Hubert had been arrested in the tragic stabbing death of Prince and the attempted stabbing death of Mikayla.
Authorities are still trying to link St. Hubert to the stabbing death of Tanaya Grant-Copeland, age 18, two days before he allegedly cornered Mikayla and Prince in the elevator at the Boulevard Houses complex in East New York. Grant-Copeland’s funeral was on Wednesday.
St. Hubert was indicted on second-degree murder and attempted murder charges Wednesday, June 11 (see story page 3). District Attorney Ken Thompson said, “These two innocent children were subjected to unimaginable violence and terror in that elevator. We will now hold Daniel St. Hubert responsible for his cowardly, unmerciful and inhumane acts against Prince Joshua Avitto and Mikayla Capers.”