Falls Police Criminal Investigation Division detectives were searching for a suspect Friday in the stabbing death of a teen during a dice game in Gluck Park Thursday night.
The incident in the park, on 16th Street near Weston Avenue, was reportedly in response to a dispute over money.
The victim, Xavier “Zay” Travis, 19, of the Falls, was identified by police on Friday as investigators began interviewing witnesses and processing evidence in the case.
Patrol officers were dispatched to a call of a disturbance just after 10 p.m. Thursday and found Travis’ body lying in the street. The initial call indicated that a large group of people were fighting and a man was “on the ground bleeding.”
First officers on the scene said Travis was “unresponsive” when they arrived. Initial reports from the scene indicated that Travis and others had been involved in a “dice game” when the fight erupted.
Travis was reported to have suffered a single serious stab wound. Niagara Falls firefighters and EMTs spent close to 10 minutes performing CPR on Travis before rushing him to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
He was pronounced dead from his wound a short time after his arrival at Memorial.
News of the teen’s death rippled through the city’s North End. At the Feel Good Friday gathering of the School of Entrepreneur Thought, 1110 19th St., a normally joyous occasion was somber.
Trent Hamilton, who runs the positive community force with Demetrious Nix and others, stepped to the microphone and pushed a big weight off his chest. He knew Zay.
“The School of Entrepreneur Thought and the (Niagara Falls) Peacemakers are forming a coalition to address black-on-black violence in Niagara Falls,” he told the gathering. “How can we grow in a system that systematically oppresses us? How can we go to war with them when we are at war with each other.”
Nate Palmer agreed.
“We talk, talk about our youth, because they are the future of our community. We need to step up as men in our community because, when fathers get involved, things change,” Palmer said. “Our kids are dying out here right in front of us. We need dialogue and conflict resolution. A lot of the time, whatever that conflict is, it ain’t even that big.”
Nix explained that the weekly gathering is about building unity in the community. The school’s tagline is “We All We Got,” which pays respect to self reliance. He has everyone that visits sign in. As of 4:30 p.m. more than 120 people were in his clipboard.
“If you’re low, I’m low,” he said. “We rise together. We don’t need an appointment to come and speak,” Nix said. “We all need to rise and all of us must work together. I have no sword to raise against my brother.”
The organization is selling “We All We Got” shirts on a print-as-you go basis. Everything Nix does has a purpose.
“We have people wait for a shirt” Nix said. “That gives us a chance to tell them about what we are doing.”
Donta Myles, one of the Peacemakers founders and a candidate for a seat on the Falls City Council, urged the group to be ready to push for change.
“We have to be better,” Myles said. “We have to be connected to our city. So many senseless deaths. If we don’t deal with it, it is only going to get worse.”