The Niagara Falls community is mourning the loss of a beloved store owner.
“He was a real big help to the community,” said Labetton Thornton, a longtime friend and customer.
69-year-old Ahmad Alsaid, also known as “Poppy,” owned Bridgeway Market. He was shot and killed Wednesday during an apparent robbery.
“He meant a lot to the whole community. Everybody loved him, he was friendly with everybody,” said Bettina Graves, who’s been shopping at Bridgeway Market for years.
Alsaid’s daughter-in-law Jamie Dolliver was at the store moments before the shooting.
“And if I would have just waited two more minutes things could have been different. But they’re not,” she said.
Dolliver’s husband Saeed Alsaid, a chef, was planning to cook his father Thanksgiving dinner for the first time.
“He was watching me in the back, breaking down the turkey, and he just tapped me on my shoulder and just went on his way,” he said of his father.
But Alsaid senior never made it to the table on Thursday.
He was transported to the hospital Wednesday night where he later died of his injuries.
Christopher Thurston was working in the shop at the time.
“I looked around the corner and was faced with a gun in my face. And guys started yelling, telling me to lay down,” Thurston told News 4.
That’s when he heard three gunshots.
He provided first aid, waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
“I called 911 as quick as I could, to try to get Poppy some help because I knew he was… he was hit.”
Niagara Falls police are investigating another robbery Wednesday night. They believe it’s related to this one.
No arrests have been made in either case.
This is a loss that’s affecting more than just Alsaid’s immediate family.
“He never closed a minute and every time I questioned him he’d say the people need me,” Saeed Alsaid said of his father.
“He wasn’t just my father-in-law, he was everybody in the community’s father. That’s why they called him Poppy. They used to come here for advice, for help. He would give people food for free,” Dolliver told News 4.
A vigil will be held for Alsaid outside the Bridgeway Market Saturday night.
A funeral is planned for Tuesday.
Saeed Alsaid told News 4 he plans to keep his father’s shop going.
“I know that this store means a lot to him. I know that he’d want it to be open at all times.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Niagara Falls Police at (716) 286-4553 or (716) 286-4711.