St. Louis Teens Kill Bosnian Immigrant Zemir Begic in Brutal Hammer Attack
A group of four hammer-wielding teens brutally beat a Bosnian immigrant to death in front of his horrified wife following a confrontation in South St. Louis early Sunday morning.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports 32-year-old Zemir Begic and his wife Arijana Mujkanovic were in their car in the city’s Bevo Mill neighborhood at around 1:15 a.m. when a group of four teenagers began attacking the vehicle.
According to police, Begic exited the car to confront the teens, who then began yelling at him and hitting him with hammers.
Mujkanovic witnessed the entire attack. She credits Begic with saving her life.
“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,” she told KSDK.
Begic suffered injuries to his head, abdomen, face and mouth. He died at St. Louis University Hospital.
St. Louis Police announced Monday that three suspects have been taken into custody. Detectives said they believe they know the identity of the fourth suspect, but have not yet made an arrest. According to police, there was no racial motive in the attack, despite elevated racial tensions over recent events in nearby Ferguson. One of the suspects was described as black, another is Hispanic. Their ages range from 15-17.
“There is no indication that the gentleman last night was targeted because he was Bosnian,” St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters.
Another Bosnian immigrant, 24-year-old Seldin Dzananovic, told the Post-Dispatch that he had a close brush with the hammer-wielding thugs on Gravois Avenue about an hour before the attack on Begic. Dzanonovic said he was able to fend off his assailants, suffering only cuts to his hands and neck.
“I’m just lucky,” he said. “God is on my side.”
KMOV reports Begic’s murder sparked a protest in St. Louis’ Bosnian community, with demonstrators blocking off traffic at Gravois Avenue and Itaska Street, the site of the deadly assault, on Sunday night.
“We’re just angry because we’re trying to protect our community,” 29-year-old St. Louis resident Mirza Nukic told the Post-Dispatch. “We’re just trying to be peaceful.”
Begic moved to the United States from Bosnia with his family in 1996. He moved from Utica, New York to Waterloo, Iowa and then to Phoenix before settling in St. Louis and marrying Mujkanovic. He loved singing, and often performed in public.
“He loved America,” Denisa Begic, the victim’s 23-year-old sister, told the Post-Dispatch. “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.”
“He loved everybody,” Begic said of her slain brother. “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.”
“I hope justice is served for my brother because he didn’t deserve this at all,” added Begic.