When Jeremy Wright stood for his arraignment Saturday, Fred Merukeb also stood, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of the accused killer.
"He shot my son," Merukeb said. "I just wanted to see him."
Wright, 30, of Buffalo, is charged with firing the gun that killed Saleem Merukeb on Nov. 3 in Allentown. He was arraigned by Buffalo City Court Judge Amy C. Martoche and ordered held without bail.
The early morning shooting, which shocked neighborhood residents, took place just steps away from Frizzy's Bar & Grill.
Video surveillance of the street indicates Wright and Merukeb, 37, got into an altercation that quickly turned into a street fight, Buffalo Police said at news conference Saturday.
Wright eventually left the scene but returned with a gun and opened fire, Lt. Jeff Rinaldo, a spokesman for the police, told reporters.
"Mr. Wright is known to the the police," Rinaldo added.
Wright's arrest grew out of an investigation that relied heavily on the cooperation of Allentown business owners and residents, Rinaldo said.
The community's cooperation was essential to identifying Wright as a the suspect, he said. Wright was arrested without incident, he also said.
In the hall outside the courtroom where Wright was arraigned, Merukeb talked about his oldest son, an electrician and father of two, and the heartbreaking void he now feels in his life.
"No parent should have to bury their own child," he told reporters after the arraignment. "I just can't imagine not being able to see my son again."
Merukeb said his son was a wonderful father, "better than I was to him," and spoke about how he insisted on the best for his two kids, including sending them to private schools.
Merukeb, who met briefly with prosecutors and investigators after the arraignment, said his son encountered Wright on the street outside Frizzy's that night but walked away from the dispute.
He claims Wright then went to retrieve a gun and shot his son.
"He doesn't usually walk away from a fight," Merukeb said. "But he walked away this time."
Like Rinaldo, Mayor Byron W. Brown praised the Allentown community for coming forward and helping with the investigation. He said the murder is a shocking reminder of the careful balance that exists in the neighborhood just north of downtown.
"While Allen Street has become a popular entertainment district, we want the public to realize it is a residential neighborhood as well, and we want to respect the fact that people live in that neighborhood, go to work in that neighborhood, raise their children in that neighborhood," Brown told reporters Saturday.
Martoche ordered Wright to appear in court again Thursday.