From AP, via the Carlsbad Current Argus, Feb. 15:
Salt Lake City – Officials fear a backlash against the Bosnian community, while family friends suggested a Bosnian teen’s experiences as a refugee may have fueled his deadly rampage through a mall Monday.
Ljubica Roth, president of the Utah Consortium of Multicultural Groups, an organization that works with refugees and immigrants, said she received six reports on Wednesday of Bosnians in Salt Lake City being accosted verbally – mostly about how they got into the country, she said, or whether they intended to commit violence.
“Many people didn’t go to work today because they were worried about it,” Roth said.
Officials scheduled an outdoor vigil for tonight downtown, with Bosnians and non-Bosnians invited to speak and share their grief.
Police investigators said they still did not know what made the killer, Sulejmen Talovic, drive to the Trolley Square mall just before 7 p.m. and open fire, killing five and wounding four. Talovic was later shot dead.
Talovic had worked a regular day’s shift – ending at 5 p.m. – at a company that supplies uniforms to businesses, his boss said.
Talovic, a legal U.S. resident with a green card, arrived with his family from Croatia in 1998.
Few neighbors remembered him, but they described the other Talovic family members, including his younger sisters, his mother and his father – a truck driver who was often away – as quiet, respectable and self-contained. Others described the lanky boy as a loner who dressed in black.
“We are Muslims, but we are not terrorists,” the boy’s aunt, Ajka Omerovic, said Wednesday at the family’s house.
She rejected any religious motive and said the family can’t explain the shooting. The Talovic family fled Bosnia for Utah “to be free,” she said.
Talovic lived with his parents and three younger sisters in a tiny ranch house. His parents, Suljo and Sabira Talovic, do not speak English well and have refused to answer the door.
People close to the family still living in Bosnia told reporters that Talovic was only 4 when he and his mother fled their village of Talovici on foot after Serbian forces overran it in 1993.
“Many left the village, but only a few made it,” said Murat Avdic, a friend of the family.
Up to 200,000 people were killed and 1.8 million others lost their homes in Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. Avdic said he was convinced the war somehow contributed to the Utah rampage, especially the 1995 slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Serb forces in Srebrenica two years after Talovic lived there.