On the day that 10-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud was laid to rest, his heartsick older brothers said they never saw any indication of violence at their East Side home that would have led them to predict the horrible beating that claimed the young boy's life.
"There was never any violence in the home," Hussein Waris said Friday, outside the Masjid An-Noor mosque on Heim Road in Getzville.
But there was no question of what to call what happened Tuesday evening in the basement of the family's house, Waris emphasized.
"This was murder," Waris said, "and we will get justice for our brother."
Authorities say the International Preparatory School student was bludgeoned to death with a wooden rolling pin by his stepfather, Ali M. Mohamud, 40.
Mohamud, a Somalian immigrant who worked at The Buffalo News as a security guard, has been charged with second-degree murder in the boy's death.
Mohamud admitted to the beating in a statement he gave to authorities.
Mohamud claimed that the boy had tried to run away on Tuesday afternoon, and he had coaxed the boy back home when he immediately tried to flee the house again, according to the statement.
The News had earlier learned from a neighbor that she had seen the boy, who went by Abdi, running away from the house. She helped Mohamud get the boy to come home with him, even giving them a ride and assuring the boy that no harm would come to him.
Mohamud told investigators he only wanted to calm the boy down, but that his stepson refused to obey him late Tuesday afternoon.
"He kept running to the door, so I sent him to the basement and told him to be quiet," Mohamud said, based on a statement he gave authorities.
Abdifatah went down into the basement, but kept yelling, according to the stepfather, who claimed he tried to quiet him down and talk to him.
When words failed, Mohamud chased the boy down, stuffed a sock inside his mouth and placed a swathe of duct tape over his stepson's mouth, then bound his hands with a cord, according to the statment.
But as this happened, the boy tried to fight back, kicking at his father, who began hitting him with a hardwood baker's rolling pin.
Abdifatah then began to vomit and Mohamud said he removed the sock and duct tape and stuffed a fresh sock in the child's mouth and again duct taped the boy's lips shut.
Despite being restrained, the boy continued to try and defend himself, authorities said, and kicked at Mohamud.
In his statement, the 40-year-old Somali native does not say how many times he struck the boy, but an autopsy by the Erie County Medical Examiner's Officer determined that Abdifatah's body was marked by 70 blows, some of them fierce enough to shatter his skull.
"He wouldn't stop kicking and I kept hitting him," Mohamud stated.
Law enforcement officials say it is obvious the boy was fighting for his life.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said that while he could not comment on the second-degree murder charge pending against Mohamud, he has found that when individuals confess to crimes, it is common for them to minimize their conduct.
"The classic example is the shaken baby case, where the defendant will claim: 'Well, I only shook him once and only for a second,' when in fact the medical findings show a severe and prolonged shaking," he said.
Outside the mosque, Abdi's older brothers said the family has been in a state of shock. Abdi's mother, Shukri Bile, hasn't been able to eat and can barely sip water, they said.
"We are suffering to the point where you cannot imagine," Waris said. "We are looking for justice for Abdi."
Among those attending the funeral at the mosque were about a dozen students from International Prep as well as Abdi's first-grade teacher.
"He was a role model," Lori Harrington recalled of the slain boy. "He used to say: 'Turn down your mouth and turn up your ears to listen.' He heard it from a story."