Editor’s Note: The opening paragraphs of this article have been edited for clarity.
Two days after greater Cleveland learned of an officer-involved fatal shooting 26 miles southeast of campus, the Case Western Reserve University community learned that the individual killed was Saif Nasser Mubarak Ali Alameri, an international student enrolled at the School of Law.
All at once, a tragic incident in the news became a deeply personal, painful moment.
In the weeks since, students, faculty and staff at the School of Law have grappled with shock and grief, as well as questions regarding how an unarmed individual ended up dead, with shots to his head, face and leg.
They also have felt sadness that thousands know only outlines of the last minutes of Alameri’s life, citing particular concern that news reports that he had been driving erratically and run away from the accident left people with only a one-sided, negative impression. They wanted people to be aware of the full picture of the friend and classmate they came to know over the past few months.
In response, the law school has created a webpage for remembrances about Alameri, as well as an online home for projects students and faculty will pursue in his honor.
“This memorial is designed to broadcast the voices of the people who knew him and those who interacted with him,” wrote law school Deans Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf in an introduction to the site, “the people who can help us remember the loss to our university, the loss to his family and friends, and the harm to our society caused by these kinds of senseless deaths.”
Alameri, 26, came to the United States from the United Arab Emirates to pursue a Master of Laws (LLM) degree, an internationally recognized academic credential. He had earned an undergraduate legal degree in his home country, and had won a scholarship from an organization in the UAE to attend Case Western Reserve.
Upon arriving on campus in July, Alameri quickly became known among his classmates as the kind of person who always offered others a smile and support. He often gave rides to classmates who lacked their own transportation, and even provided a couple days’ lodging at his own home for one whose apartment was not yet ready.
“That was the first week of law school,” Saeed Al Ali posted on the memorial site. “He didn’t know me well but he refused to make me live in hotel and he said, ‘your brother is here.’ … At the end, we lost one of our brothers.”
Jihanne (Jane) Flegeau, an LLM student from France, also encountered Alameri early in the program. She had been anticipating the start of classes with a mixture of excitement and nerves. On her way to the first LLM meeting, she spotted Alameri on a bench near the building.
“We talked a little, he made me laugh, smile and realize that everything will be all right,” she posted on the memorial page. “This is how I will remember him. As a bright and kind man.”
Lewis R. Katz, the school’s John C. Hutchins Professor of Law and director of Foreign Graduate Studies, was on a school outreach trip to the Middle East when he learned of the death of the friendly and outgoing student from his Foreign Graduate Seminar. Alameri, Katz recalled, made a point of engaging LLM students from all parts of the world.
His classmates “knew him as someone who would always give them a smile and an encouraging word,” he said.
LLM student Arsalan Alvi provided a firsthand example of Alameri’s support for friends in a post on the memorial page.
“I remember the last time we met after a class,” Alvi wrote. “We were both on our way home and when he caught me worried about my exams (my natural reaction to exams), he said, ‘You will get honors, wait and see. You are smart.’”
Jonathan Gordon, a professor of law and associate director of the LLM Lawyering Skills Program, taught Alameri in his U.S. Legal Analysis and Writing course. He recalled that Alameri regularly sat in the center of the front row, between a student from Germany and another who was a judge in Oman. Like other faculty, Gordon found Alameri exceptionally friendly and polite, with a great generosity of spirit.
One of Professor Gordon’s most striking memories involved a weekend meal that Alameri and other Middle Eastern students organized last month. He was proud of his home country, and eager to share its food and aspects of its cultures with those attending.
“I remember how graciously Saif served the special hot tea to many of us,” Gordon wrote in an email. “He was very enthusiastic about showing a video of his country … and talking to everyone about the UAE. He was happy and smiling.”
The school’s memorial page includes a video of that event taken by a UAE student.
Ali, the UAE student that Alameri assisted with lodging at the beginning of the semester, and Ali Alblooshi, another classmate from that country, visited Alameri’s family to express condolences personally upon returning after exams.
“I miss his humor, and the beautiful smile, which greeted us every morning and evening,” Alblooshi said. “It’s hard merely to think that we will not meet again with our friend, but Saif’s memories will live on in our hearts, our prayers, our conversation and in every corner and place we met with him.”
State law enforcement officials are continuing their investigation of Alameri’s death. When it is complete, they will turn over findings to a unit of the Ohio Attorney General’s office. The Daily will continue to provide updates regarding the case as developments warrant.