A Tiny Elevator, a Haunting Reminder in Brooklyn


And the camera in the 15-square-foot elevator has become a daily reminder for parents to not leave their children unsupervised, even inside the building.

“They’re never by themselves,” Evita Worley, 55, said of her three grandchildren. “I think neighbors are now more secure with their children.”

On a recent visit to the building, a few tenants trickled in and out of the elevator with grocery bags from the mini-market on Stanley Avenue. In the lobby, the frame around the elevator door was plastered with fliers: safety guidelines, city youth employment programs, an outdated winter storm warning.

Opposite the elevator, above the 38 mailboxes, hung a flyer with a picture of P.J. wearing a graduation cap and gown. “Coming Soon,” it read. “Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center.” The two-story building, with a gymnasium and a dance studio named after Mikayla, is scheduled to open across the street in May.

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A memorial for P.J. in the courtyard of the Boulevard Houses.

Credit
Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

That stretch of Schenk Avenue was renamed Prince Joshua Avitto Way in 2015. Next to the street sign bearing P.J.’s name, a community garden known as the Garden of Peace was built in his honor. And all around the neighborhood, shops and restaurants have pictures of P.J. on their walls.

“This building is his memorial,” said Ms. Worley, who has lived 10 years in the Boulevard Houses. “His spirit will always be here.”

P.J.’s family moved out a month after the attack. But on Palm Sunday, while the trial in her son’s killing was underway, Aricka McClinton paid a visit to the neighborhood for Mass. Outside Building 11, she was joined by P.J.’s godmother, Anabelle Alston, and aunt, Sherri Avitto.

“No matter what, everything comes back to this building,” said Ms. Avitto, 52, who lives down the street.

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