More denial of terror? Muslim mall shooter's father 'wants to know who gave son the guns' - family asks for donations for burial in Bosnia
February 17, 2007
MIM: According to the father of the killer his son was driven to murder because of seeing dead bodies in Bosnia at 4 years old. A lame excuse given that not one out of millions of Jews who saw their families murdered in front of their eyes by Nazis and who were liberated from concentration camps where piles of bodies could be seen daily ever perpetrated an attack on Germans or anyone else as a result of the trauma they underwent.
February 17, 2007, 2:14 PM EST
SALT LAKE CITY -- By many accounts, the Bosnian teenager who opened fire randomly inside a crowded mall was a quiet boy with few, if any, friends.
Sulejman Talovic, a high-school dropout, worked his regular day shift last Monday as a laborer at an industrial laundry plant, according to managers at Aramark Uniform Services.
He returned home for a shower, his father says, then drove across town to Trolley Square mall.
Armed with a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol, a bandolier of shotgun shells under his trench coat and backpack full of ammunition, Talovic began "shooting anyone and anything he could point his gun at," Police Chief Chris Burbank said Friday.
It is a question that might never be answered: Why did 18-year-old Talovic shoot nine strangers, killing five, at the upscale mall just east of downtown. His heartless 7-minute rampage ended only when police managed to cut him down in a Pottery Barn Kids store.
He left nothing behind -- no notes, no journals, no computer -- that might explain his motives, Burbank told The Associated Press.
"We have gone through the expense of interviewing co-workers, employers, teachers in the past, neighbors, friends, family members -- and haven't had anything come to us that could lead us to a motive," the chief said.
A family friend in Bosnia suggests the answer might lie with the war in the boy's homeland. Relatives told the AP that Talovic's early life was marked by poverty and upheaval: the family fled on foot from Serb forces when Talovic was just 4 years old, and his grandfather was killed by a Serb bomb.
"That's why I'm convinced the war did this in Utah," said Murat Avdic, a friend of the family. "There cannot be any other reason."
The boy's father, Suljo Talovic, said there might be something to that theory. Though his son was just a toddler at the time, "he see many dead bodies. He see everything."
Suljo Talovic, a 42-year-old construction worker, told reporters last week that he was at a loss to explain his son's behavior and that he never saw any weapons at their bungalow in Rose Park, a working-class neighborhood in northwestern Salt Lake City.
"Somebody has to be behind it," said Sulejman Omerovic, a 37-year-old taxi driver, expressing a common sentiment among Salt Lake's Bosnian community that Talovic could not have obtained the guns on his own.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating how Talovic got the pistol, which is illegal for a teenager to possess.
Omerovic, a friend of the Talovic family, said the boy "never had any real friends." He was pretty much on his own and didn't say much at gatherings of the family, which includes three younger sisters, said Omerovic.
"It's just sad. We don't get it. Nobody can explain anything, like how somebody can do something like that," said Omerovic, who left Bosnia in 1998 and later arrived in Utah.
Maruf Arifovic, a 53-year-old painting contractor who arrived in 1998, said Bosnian immigrants "don't feel so happy as a community" in the wake of the attack. But, he said, the shooting had "nothing to do with the Bosnian people. We are very moral people."
Several thousand people from the Balkans have settled in the Salt Lake City area, many of them after fleeing ethnic violence in their homeland.
"We have a strong economic center in Salt Lake. There are a lot of grocery stores and restaurants," said Mladen Maric, a 50-year-old real-estate agent.
Maric, a dean of the Bosnian community -- he arrived here in 1973 -- said he had little fear that the shooting would prompt a backlash against Bosnians in Utah, which "has a great history of tolerance." He said that Mormons who settled Utah more than 150 years ago to escape religious persecution haven't forgotten their own suffering.
Bosnia's ambassador to the United States, Bisera Turkovic, met with local leaders last week and said every Bosnian was shocked by the teenager's actions.
Turkovic told hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil that her country was shamed by "this unspeakable crime committed by one sick person."