Bosnian Community in St. Louis Outraged over Fatal Hammer Attack in Bevo Mill Neighborhood

Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 1, 2014

A police spokeswoman said investigators do not believe race played a role in the bludgeoning death of a Bosnian immigrant early Sunday, but declined to say what police believe is the motive in the killing.

Many at the scene of the murder near Gravois Avenue and Itaska Street speculated that the three teenagers who beat Zemir Begic, 32, to death with hammers targeted him because of his Bosnian descent.

Zemir Begic and wife Arijana

Zemir Begic and wife Arijana

Schron Jackson said detectives do not believe Begic’s Bosnian heritage or the color of his skin served as a motive in any way.

Police have all three suspects in custody.

Police arrested two suspects, ages 15 and 16 Sunday. A 17-year-old male suspect in the deadly hammer attack over the weekend in the Bevo Mill neighborhood turned himself into city police headquarters late Sunday night, police say.

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Earlier story:

St. Louis Bosnians outraged about a deadly hammer attack in the city’s Bevo Mill neighborhood spilled into the streets Sunday night to voice frustrations over violence touching their community.

“We’re just angry because we’re trying to protect our community,” said Mirza Nukic, 29, of St. Louis. “We’re just trying to be peaceful.”

Nukic was among at least 50 people, mostly, if not all Bosnians, who briefly blocked Gravois Avenue at Itaska Street on Sunday night to protest the killing. The intersection was near where Zemir Begic, a Bosnian man who moved to St. Louis this year, was attacked by at least three teens with hammers early Sunday.

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.

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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.

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