BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 13-year-old boy found dead in an old golf park on Amherst Street in Buffalo will be laid to rest Tuesday morning.
The body of Ameer Al Shammari was found Saturday afternoon. The teen had been missing since Friday, after the seventh grader at Waterfront Elementary left home to go down the street to a friend’s house.
Ali Kadhum, spokesman of the Iraqi American Society, spoke on behalf of the family. He told News 4, “We heard that some people stole his iPhone and he was crying. This is what some witnesses mentioned.”
The family believes Ameer followed the person who took his iPhone to try to get them to return it. The cell phone had been a gift given to Ameer by his parents as a reward for doing well in school.
“Right now the whole community is very emotional with the family. All of them are supporting the family and praying for them. We’re trying to focus on comforting the family,” Kadhum said. “Having this kind of tragedy is kind of traumatizing for the whole community.”
Ameer’s body was found at an old golf park, Tee to Green, on Amherst Street in Black Rock. Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding his death, but have ruled it a homicide.
“He was a lovely child at this age. He didn’t know anything but how to play and be nice with the other kids. He was not a violent child,” Kadhum said.
Investigators say a blue bicycle may have been taken from near where the body was located, and would like to talk to anyone with information at 847-2255.
This Iraqi family moved to America in October, hoping to give their children a better life. Now instead of enjoying their first spring in Buffalo, the family had to decide whether they should lay their youngest to rest in the U.S. or their home country.
Al Shammari is survived by his mother, father and two older brothers. His mother teaches Arabic, while his father is a construction worker. The teen will be laid to rest during a ceremony at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown calls this situation “absolutely heartbreaking.”
“We’re going to work as hard as we possibly can work though the Buffalo Police Department to try to find the individual or individuals responsible for this,” he said. “I can say that they are pursuing every single lead, the investigation is active, they’re working around the clock.”
Despite the mayor’s assurances, a spokesman for the family told News 4 that they have not been satisfied with the police department’s response.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said, “There’s not a whole lot I can say. The investigation is progressing, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Sunday afternoon, the Buffalo School District released the following statement:
“It is our great sorrow to learn of the untimely death of a student of Waterfront Elementary #95 this past weekend. The District Crisis Team will join the school’s Student Support Team to provide counseling and will be assigned to the school until further notice. Counselors will also be available for students, parents, and staff. As a school community, we will do all that we can to comfort those students, staff and family members who are most affected by this tragic end to a young life.”