Police make arrest in ‘Brooklyn butcher’ elevator stabbing of kids

Daniel St. Hubert in a May 5, 2014, photo provided by the New York State Department of Corrections. (AP Photo/New York State Department of Corrections) Daniel St. Hubert in a May 5, 2014, photo provided by the New York State Department of Corrections. (AP Photo/New York State Department of Corrections)

The tabloids are calling him the Brooklyn butcher — the man who stabbed a 6-year-old boy to death and critically injured a 7-year-old girl in a New York public housing building elevator.

Wednesday, minutes after authorities publicly identified him as wanted in connection with the case, police picked up 27-year-old Daniel St. Hubert about 8 p.m. on a quiet street in Ozone Park, Queens, just about five miles from the scene of the slaying, according to news reports.

Police told reporters forensic evidence led them to the man, who has not been formally charged but is being called a “suspect” by police and a butcher by the tabloids.

“I want to see this bastard’s face,” Regeina Trevathan, great-grandmother of the girl, told the New York Times at the station house Wednesday night. “He’s not a crazy person; he’s just an animal who does not belong on the face of the earth. I don’t think he’s going to be a happy camper in incarceration this time around; people in prison have children, too.”

The boy, Prince Joshua Avitto, called P.J., was killed, and the girl, Mikayla Capers, was critically wounded in the knife attack Sunday, just nine days after St. Hubert was released from prison after serving a five-year sentence for attempted murder and assault, correctional records show.

A law enforcement official told the Times on Thursday morning that St. Hubert had been arrested in 2009 for punching his mother and trying to strangle her with a phone wire.

Mikayla remains hospitalized. Police initially said she was in critical condition. “She’s doing much better. She’s a strong young lady,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

P.J. and Mikayla were playing outside Sunday afternoon when they were told ices were waiting inside, police told the New York Daily News. According to the Associated Press:

Before the Sunday evening assault, Prince and Mikayla had been playing outside the Boulevard Houses under adult supervision. Relatives and witnesses said they went inside alone when they were cornered by a heavyset man in his 20s.

The attacker used a steak knife to stab each child multiple times, police said. He fled on foot, leaving the knife outside the building, they said. Prince was found in the elevator, Mikayla just outside the building. Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson says Prince was his cousin.

Police said they were investigating whether St. Hubert also may have fatally stabbed 18-year-old Tanaya Copeland on Friday four blocks from where Sunday’s attack happened. A similar knife was recovered at the scene of Copeland’s slaying.

A law enforcement official said earlier that DNA evidence from the knife helped lead police to the suspect. However, at a news conference, police declined to give details.

But according to the New York Daily News:

Cops used St. Hubert’s cell phone number to hunt him down. They pinged it to within a few hundred feet, recognized him from a photo and then collared him just after 8 p.m. in the vicinity of 145th St. and 133rd Ave in South Ozone Park.

“When they tracked him down, everybody ran out of the different commands to go and capture this guy,” a police source said. The suspect had a knife on him when cops picked him up.

Gibson tweeted Monday morning:

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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