Ten-year-old Abdifatah Mohamud, who authorities say was brutally murdered by his stepfather last week, called 911 two times a year ago to report that his stepfather was harming him.
"I'm being abused," he told a 911 complaint operator shortly after 4 p.m. April 18, 2011.
When asked how, the boy hesitated at giving specifics on the phone. The operator then asked if there were weapons in the house.
"A machete," Abdifatah said.
The operator told the child police were being dispatched to the family's home at 30 Guilford St., where the call had originated.
The conversation then ended.
But Abdifatah wasn't satisfied.
He called 911 again soon afterward. He wanted the police to hurry, three law enforcement officials told The Buffalo News in providing details on the calls.
The operator assured the child police were on the way.
When Ferry-Fillmore District officers arrived, they investigated and, according to police logs, "advised" family members at the home, but the stepfather, Ali Mohamed Mohamud, was not arrested.
It is unclear as to what "advised" meant or what police officers told the family members.
It is also not known at this point if a domestic violence report was filed by officers. State law requires police to file a "domestic incident report" while investigating a report of a crime among members of the same family or household.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda has ordered Internal Affairs investigators to conduct a review into how officers handled the child's complaints, city spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said late Tuesday.
Mohamud, 40, confessed to police that he beat the boy to death in the basement of the family's home on the evening of April 17, but he also told The Buffalo News he never physically harmed his stepson prior to the fatal beating.
"I have never struck any of my children. You ask my wife, you ask my stepchildren, they will tell you," Mohamud said.
At the boy's funeral Friday, family members said they never witnessed physical abuse by the stepfather and would have put an immediate stop to it if they had.
Police were not the only ones who investigated complaints about how Abdifatah was being treated.
Erie County Child Protective Services Division was contacted, and an investigation was conducted into how Abdifatah suffered injuries last June, about two months after the boy called 911.
And though details of that investigation have not been made public, the child remained at the Guilford Street home.
A relative of Abdifatah, who alerted The News to look into 911 calls made in April 2011 from 30 Guilford St., said that Mohamud managed to not only succeed in portraying himself as a concerned father to those closest to him, but to police, child protective workers and school officials.
"What did Child Protective Services not see? They are professional, and they are trained," the relative said. "What Mohamud did was inhumane."
The Erie County medical examiner's autopsy findings determined the stepfather beat the boy 70 times with a rolling pin after restraining and gagging him in the basement following an argument over Abdifatah's homework.
"Given the terrible tragedy in the death of this 10-year-old boy and the great public concern for this case, last week Commissioner Derenda ordered a review regarding police involvement in this matter," DeGeorge said. He added that Mayor Byron W. Brown has asked the commissioner to "expedite the review."
The Internal Affairs Division also will examine more than a dozen other 911 calls made from the Guilford Street residence, including two complaints of "violent family dispute[s]" and four calls in which the individual calling 911 hung up.
Last June 20, approximately two months after Abdifatah's call to 911, he showed up at the Universal School of Buffalo, where he was in fourth grade, with swollen eyes and a bruised forehead. He was accompanied by his stepfather and mother.
"When we asked him what happened, he was kind of evasive," said Kathy Jamil, principal of the Islamic faith tradition elementary school.
"The stepfather told us he was beaten up on the school bus on June 16, but when Abdifatah came to school on June 17, a day later, there were no marks on his face. We didn't even know there had been a fight on the bus. The bus company denies that there was a fight," Jamil said.
Mohamud did most of the talking, she said, claiming that a third-grader on the bus attacked his stepson and asking school officials to contact police. He then said they were heading to Women & Children's Hospital to seek treatment for Abdifatah.
"The stepfather wanted to press charges," said Jamil, who investigated the incident and determined that, from what she learned from others on the bus, the incident did not rise to the level of a police complaint.
The third-grader, she said, informed her that they were "play wrestling" and that boy was shocked days later when he saw Abdifatah's injuries.
"When Abdifatah returned to school on June 22, I asked him what happened, and he wouldn't say anything," Jamil said.
At some point after that, county child protective workers began an investigation into the injuries. Efforts to reach officials at Erie County Social Services, which oversees CPS, were unsuccessful.
Jamil says there is no question that Abdifatah feared his father.
"He'd cry, saying, 'Oh, I'm going to get in big trouble with my father.' He'd say that to kids in school and on the bus. But then he'd laugh it off as if he were joking," Jamil said of stories schoolchildren have related to her since the murder.
The principal said Abdifatah was a good student for the year that he was there, before moving on to fifth grade this current school year at the city district's International Preparatory School on Clinton Street.
International Prep Principal Kevin J. Eberle said that students have come forward since the homicide to report that the boy had confided in them that his stepfather was abusive.
And both Eberle and Jamil said that they would not have hesitated to go to authorities to put a stop to it if the boy had come to them and said he was being abused.
Abdifatah never missed handing in homework assignments, and with an 86 average and positive attitude, he was considered one of the best students in the fifth grade at the city school, Eberle and teachers have said.
At the end of fourth grade, when students were honored at the Universal School of Buffalo, Jamil said, Abdifatah was designated the "most cooperative" student among his classmates and received an award.