CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) - A teenager is dead, and his killer is at large. The victim's family is coming forward in their time of grief.
The victim's father said, "Such a nice kid, you know?"
19-year-old Ira Watkins of Buffalo was shot and killed just as he was about to play basketball with friends, his father, Ira G. Watkins, said.
Watkins said, "Somebody started shooting, and they started running. They say Ira looked back. The bullet popped him in the chest."
Police say about 100 witnesses were at the scene in Cheektowaga Town Park early Tuesday evening when a gunman opened fire.
Cheektowaga Police Lt. Ken Rusin said, "At this point we don't have any information regarding a motive or a reason why this happened."
His father says Ira graduated from Riverside High and was attending Erie Community College. He says Ira planned to become a police officer like his sister. He's convinced his son's killer will be brought to justice.
"They're going to find him. You don't go over there and go shooting, messing up around Cheektowaga. Just a matter of time before they find him," said Watkins.
Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack tells News 4 investigators are now in the process of going through surveillance footage taken from cameras in the area, especially the one on the side of the town recreation center.
Those who live near the park are still digesting what happened. Town supervisor Mary Holtz is promising beefed up patrols, and says people should not be afraid to visit the park.
"We will have additional security, and I hope the public doesn't feel that this is going to happen again. Our police force will be here to make sure that it doesn't," said Holtz.
This kind of violence is rare in Cheektowaga, especially when it happens in daylight at a busy park.
Erie County Legislator Thomas Mazur said, "We're all miffed by it. The whole neighborhood is in a uproar. People are scared."
Resident Jim Juergens said, "They'll track him down. They'll lock him up, and hopefully that'll be the end of it."
Authorities are asking for the public's help. If you were at the park and saw something or you know something, you're asked to call Cheektowaga Police at 686-3500.
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