St. Louis area has been rattled by the shooting death of Michael Brown, which led to Officer Darren Wilson resigning from the police force in Ferguson days after a grand jury decided not to file charges against him.
Now, a Bosnian man has been brutally murdered by teens wielding hammers. It occurred in the Bevo Mill neighborhood early Sunday morning, where 32-year-old Zemir Begic was beaten to death. His wife witnessed the horrific crime, saying he sacrificed himself to ensure her safety.
Begic was in his car around 1:15 am on Sunday when he was approached by at least several teens, who proceeded to damage it. When he got out of the car to confront them, he was attacked (via St. Louis Post-Dispatch):
Police said Begic was in his vehicle about 1:15 a.m. in the 4200 block of Itaska when several juveniles approached and began damaging his car. Police said Begic got out to confront the juveniles, who began yelling at him and hitting him with hammers.
Begic, 32, who lived in the 4200 block of Miami Street, suffered injuries to his head, abdomen, face and mouth. He died at St. Louis University Hospital.
Some of the demonstrators recalled other recent Bosnian victims of violence, including Haris Gogic, 19, who was fatally shot in May 2013 by a robber in his family’s Bevo Mill convenience store.
St. Louis police Chief Sam Dotson spoke with residents at the street protest Sunday night. He said he was sorry about what happened and sought to reassure people the killing did not appear motivated by race or ethnicity.
“There is no indication that the gentleman last night was targeted because he was Bosnian,” Dotson said. “There’s no indication that they knew each other.”
Dotson said police have two male juveniles, ages 15 and 16, in custody. Police know the nickname of a third suspect and believe a fourth was involved.
Dotson also promised to increase day and night foot patrols in the area.
When members of the Bosnian community blocked traffic in protest, Chief Dotson said, “the whole idea of standing out in the street is to get our attention; you got my attention. You absolutely did.”
His sister, Denisa, said Zemir was a person who loved America. The Begic family came here in the mid-1990s, fleeing the death and destruction that ravaged their home country.
Right now, a third suspect has turned himself in to police, but the fourth remains at large. Police think this was a tragic case of Mr. Begic being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.