Police in St. Louis said Tuesday that a fatal hammer attack on a Bosnian immigrant over the weekend by a group of teenagers was not motivated by race.
The killing of Zemir Begic, 32, took place about 20 miles from Ferguson, the suburb rocked by violent protests in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white cop who shot and killed an black teenager in August. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the attack, allegedly committed by black and Latino teenagers wielding hammers, has sparked accusations from the region’s significant Bosnian-American community that city officials have again turned a blind eye to racially motivated crimes.
“Investigators do not believe the attack on Mr. Begic had any connection to him being of Bosnian descent,” St. Louis Police spokeswoman Schron Jackson said in a statement. Nor do they believe it is related to the unrest in Ferguson, Jackson told the newspaper. A 17-year-old has been charged with first-degree murder in the incident, having turned himself in to police Sunday night. The department has said it will work alongside the city prosecutor to determine a motive.
The region’s Bosnian-American community has called on officials to investigate all possible motives, Fox News reported Tuesday. “Bosnians right now have an impression that this was a hate crime,” Sadik Kukic, president of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, said. Kukic added that he believes several crimes against St. Louis’ Bosnians were racially motivated, including a 2013 murder of a Bosnian store owner.