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Mother of New York boy stabbed in elevator seeks $281 million

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The mother of a 6-year-old boy fatally stabbed in the elevator of a New York City public housing complex has filed a $281 million claim against the city, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Prince Joshua Avitto was attacked along with a 7-year-old friend at the Boulevard Houses building in Brooklyn on June 1 as they returned from getting ice cream.

The claim, filed on Wednesday by Avitto's mother, alleges that the New York City Housing Authority's negligent and reckless management of its property led to her son's death.

“The NYCHA and City of New York provided zero security and protection, intentionally failed to install security cameras and surveillance monitoring and eliminated a tenants’ patrol that would have saved his life,” the mother's attorney, Jack Yankowitz, said in a statement.

“The NYCHA and City of New York are responsible for the horrifying and brutal attack, stabbing and death of 6-year-old P.J. Avitto,” Yankowitz said.

The housing complex had not placed security cameras in the area where the children were stabbed, despite getting funds to do so, according to the claim. It also ignored complaints by residents concerned about broken locks on the buildings' doors, it said.

Police arrested Daniel Hubert, 27, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, on June 4 and said he allegedly used kitchen knives in the attack.

Hubert, who had nine prior arrests and was on parole for domestic assault at the time of the stabbing, is slated to stand trial for the death of Avitto and injury of his friend.

The friend, Mikayla Capers, was stabbed 16 times but recovered and was released from a local hospital in mid-June.

The city's legal department acknowledged the claim and said it is in the process of being reviewed.

"We just received the notice of claim in this very tragic case," the legal department said in a statement on Thursday. "We will review the allegations."

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Eric Beech)

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