The body of a 14-year-old boy was found Saturday in an abandoned and overgrown golf park in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood.
Buffalo homicide detectives were summoned about 3 p.m. to Amherst near Churchill streets at the former Tee 2 Green Golf Park, where the body of the boy was found, apparently by a man walking his dogs in the area.
Residents of the Iraqi community in the neighborhood said the victim was Ameer Al Shammari, 14, of nearby Peter Street, who had been missing since 6 p.m. Friday. A poster had been circulated when the boy went missing, according to neighbors of the tight-knit immigrant community, dozens of whom milled outside the boy’s home hours after his body was discovered.
Firas Ahmad, a friend and neighbor of the family, said community residents had organized a search party.
“We walked everywhere. We had around 25 guys there walking, even in the scary neighborhoods, but we didn’t find nothing,” Ahmad said.
The man walking his dogs discovered the body at the old golf facility on Amherst Street and called police.
“There are signs of foul play in this death investigation,” said Dennis J. Richards, chief of detectives, in a prepared statement.
“We ask anyone familiar with this incident to contact the TIPCALL number, (716) 847-2255, with their confidential information,” Richards added.
Friends and neighbors of the victim’s family met outside the family’s house on Peter Street hours after the body was discovered.
“He’s a very good kid,” said Riyad Issa, a native of Jerusalem. “He usually sticks around his house and never leaves his front porch.”
Though police did not provide a motive, Issa and other neighbors believe Ameer may have been killed trying to retrieve a cellphone that had been stolen from him. Both Ahmad and Issa said that, before he disappeared, Ameer confided to a neighbor that he was accosted by three or four other teenagers who took the device from him.
An unidentified neighbor “said that he came to her and told her that they stole his phone and that he knew them. So she told him to go his mom. He just didn’t listen to her and I think he followed the people,” Ahmad said.
Just a few hours after Ameer’s disappearance, Ahmad said worried family and neighbors called police. They printed and posted flyers throughout the neighborhood and even went in search of him themselves.
Ahmad said he also made numerous calls to the police.
“I left [police] a message. I begged – I was like, come on, we have new information. I need you here. I feel somebody didn’t do his job and this has happened …,” Ahmad said.
“To the last minute, we felt there is nothing wrong. He’s going to come back. He’s hiding somewhere,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad said members of the victim’s family, who moved here from wartorn Iraq, are devastated.
“They keep repeating one thing: ‘We run away from death and the death didn’t leave us.’ ” Ahmad said.