UPDATE: Killer Who Stabbed Children on Elevator Reminds Us of Big Issue

Police are still searching for a man in New York City who reportedly stabbed two young children in the elevator of the apartment building where they live, killing one.  Prince Joshua "PJ" Avitto, who is 6, was stabbed in the torso and was pronounced dead at the hospital. His playmate, 7-year-old Mikayla Capers, was also stabbed in the torso and remains in critical condition. The friends were on the playground by their building and took a break to run inside and grab ice-cream treats when the brutal attack took place, according to reports. And while this may be viewed by some as just another horrific crime against innocent children -- and it is -- it hints at another major issue we continue to ignore.


An African-American man, described as being "heavy set," about 6 feet tall, and between the ages of 25 and 35, reportedly entered the same elevator the children had taken and used a butcher knife to stab them. The boy collapsed in the elevator, and this terrifying killer allegedly chased little Mikalya out of the elevator on the first floor. The attacker then fled the scene.

Their apartment building was not equipped with security cameras. Even though adults were reportedly watching the kids on the playground, and it was only 6 p.m. and still light outside, no one reported seeing a suspicious person enter the building.

This poor little boy's mother was obviously beside herself at the hospital and mentioned that Prince Joshua was killed just 16 days before his birthday. Most of the kids' family members couldn't get past the senselessness of this crime and how the killer couldn't possibly have a motive for stabbing the children -- whom he didn't even know.

I can't help but get annoyed when I hear some people suggest that it wasn't wise for adults to let these children go off by themselves for ice cream. At their age, I wouldn't let them go to the store by themselves, but that wasn't what happened. They were simply running up to one of their homes from right outside their apartment building. The problem in this case isn't the adults who allowed this to happen -- it's the fact that a mentally unstable person is still walking around, able to use weapons to hurt innocent people and children.

We don't have a good track record in this country when it comes to how we provide for folks with serious mental disorders. We have a tendency to ignore the problem and then act surprised when people with mental illness, who should be receiving treatment in state hospitals that are held accountable by the government, get their hands on weapons -- whether guns or knives -- and harm others.

I'm not suggesting pure evil doesn't exist or that better treatment for the mentally disabled would automatically make all of our problems with violence disappear. But it's going to be impossible to convince me that it wouldn't help.

What do you think we should do differently to help people with mental disorders?


Image via JD Hancock/Flickr

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