A 32-year-old man was beaten to death with hammers by at least two teens early Sunday morning on Itaska Street.
The victim was identified as Zemir Begic, 32, of the 4200 block of Miami Street. He had injuries to his head, abdomen, face and mouth. He was taken to St. Louis University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Police said Begic was in his vehicle in the 4200 block of Itaska about 1:15 a.m. when several juveniles approached on foot and began damaging it. Begic got out and the juveniles began yelling at him and striking him with hammers. Two male juveniles, 16 and 15, were taken into custody.
Arijana Mujkanovic told KSDK:
“The last thing he did before he actually died was pull me out of the way and put himself in front of me, basically giving up his life for me.”
KPLR 11 adds:
Two were caught and taken into juvenile custody. Police are still searching for two others, a 16-year-old black male and a 15-year-old Hispanic.
UPDATE: One other teenager has handed hismnelf in.
Ferguson, where unarmed black man Michael Brown was shot dead by police, is not far away.
The NY Post:
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Begic’s killing did not appear to be motivated by race or ethnicity. “There is no indication that the gentleman last night was targeted because he was Bosnian,” he said. “There’s no indication that they knew each other.”
Bosnian< no. How about because he was white?
This morning we stopped by the Zemir Begic memorial in South St. Louis City. No one was around. We were told by a local business owner the Bosnians “were all at work.”
The Mail adds:
With a population estimated to be around 70,000, St Louis has the largest community of Bosnians outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
This onlooker alleges that it was a racist attack (language NSFW):
Was Zemir Begic a random target?
Seldin Dzananovic, 24, said the teens with the hammers approached him farther north on Gravois about an hour before the attack on Begic. He said he was able to fight them off, suffering only cuts to his hands and neck.
After Begic’s death, about 50 locals from the Bosnian community briefly blocked Gravois Avenue in St. Louis in protest of his assault and murder. It also resurfaced outrage over another recent Bosnian victim, Haris Gogic, 19, who was shot and killed in 2013 by a robber in his family’s convenience store.
Begic’s sister, Denisa Begic, 23, said, in regards to her brother, “He loved America. We come from Bosnia because we were getting killed and our homes and families were getting destroyed. Never in my life did I think he would get murdered.”
Denisa continued, “He loved everybody. I don’t know what to think of it. It’s so wrong what they did. They didn’t just hurt Zemir’s family. They also hurt their own family because I’m pretty sure their moms will never see them again.”
She says the Bosnians are upset because they believe the suspects targeted her brother because he was Bosnian.
Suad Nuranjkovic, the passenger in Begic’s vehicle, said, “The picture is in my head, what I saw, I don’t know why this is happening to Bosnians. We could go around and shoot people, too, but we just want peace.” He added that the attack has made him fearful to live in his own neighborhood.
Much more to follow on this…