The 13-year-old boy found dead in an abandoned Black Rock golf park Saturday will be buried today in a special section of a Cheektowaga cemetery set aside for Iraqi expatriates.
Ameer Al Shammari’s family, who fled Iraq 18 months ago, had considered taking their son’s body back to Iraq for burial.
But Ali Kadhum, executive director of the newly formed Iraqi American Society and president of the Buffalo Immigrant Refugee Empowerment Coalition, said the grieving parents chose to lay him to rest in the United States, in part because of the large and heartfelt response they have received both from the local Iraqi community and the Buffalo community in general.
Ameer’s family has been in this country for 18 months after leaving their native Iraq to escape violence and political uncertainty there.
The funeral is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the mosque at 444 Connecticut St., followed by the burial.
The boy’s death was officially ruled a homicide Monday, but authorities have refused to say how he was killed. The boy had gone missing Friday and as friends circulated a poster, his body was found Saturday in the park.
Neighbors and family friends believe that the killing may be tied to Ameer’s attempt to retrieve an iPhone that was stolen from him earlier Friday. No arrests have been made.
As many mourners and members of the news media descended on the area of the family’s home in Black Rock on Monday, and YWCA on Grant Street opened its doors for gatherings, said Deborah Lynn Williams, CEO of the YWCA of WNY and director of the building. The YWCA is collecting donations on behalf of Ameer’s family.
Mayor Byron W. Brown and Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda were among the visitors Monday afternoon. Brown called the killing a “gut-wrenching” and “heartbreaking situation” for the entire community.
Meeting with the family and about 60 other Iraqis in the YWCA community room, Brown said he has given Derenda permission to use “every police resource” possible to find the killer or killers of the Waterfront Elementary School 95 seventh-grader.
He emphasized that the police commissioner had assured him that the investigation was continuing “round-the-clock.”
“I and the Buffalo police and the community will not rest until the killer or killers have been brought to justice,” Brown said.
Before going back inside the YWCA for more conversations with the boy’s family and members of the Iraqi community, the mayor said that both as a parent and as mayor, “this is a heartbreaking situation.”
Derenda, who met briefly with the family and other Iraqis at the YWCA, called the killing of the boy “a tragedy.” He said the investigation was “progressing” but did not give details.
“This community is in pain” over the death of Ameer, the mayor said.
Kadhum said the boy’s parents and siblings “greatly appreciate” the response of the mayor, the police commissioner and the entire Buffalo community in “sharing the grief of the family” and launching a full-scale investigation to track down and prosecute whoever killed the teenager.
Ameer was “a very intelligent” student and “friendly with many people,” Kadhum said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to help the family defray expenses may mail a check to: YWCA of WNY, Attention. IAS Family Donation; 1005 Grant St.; Buffalo, NY 14207. Or they may make a PayPal donation through the YWCA’s website at www.ywca-wny.org/donation.php.