Bosnian Relatives Shocked By Mall Shooting

Sulejman Talovic, 18, is shown in a Jan. 2007 family photo supplied by the family, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007, in Salt Lake City. Sulejman Talovic allegedly shot and killed 5 people Monday night and wounded 4 more before being shot and killed by police. (AP Photo/Talovic family photo) AP Photo/Talovic family photo

Relatives of the Bosnian-born teen who killed five people and wounded four others in a shooting spree at a U.S. shopping mall said Thursday they were shocked by the news.

Utah police shot the gunman, Sulejman Talovic, 18, to death after Monday's rampage in Salt Lake City.

"I saw it on TV and I heard a brave policeman killed the shooter. Not in my wildest dreams could I have presumed Sulejman killed those people. When I heard his name, I fell from the sofa," said Redzo Talovic, 59, a cousin of the gunman.

"What got into him? This is what we are all asking ourselves. We are all in shock," he said.

There were no signs that the 18-year-old was in trouble, family members told the Salt Lake Tribune. "No, he was very good," said his uncle, Sadik Omerovic. "He never, never [hurt anyone]. He was very nice person."

Sulejman Talovic quit school at 16, but had continued to attend Friday prayers at a Salt Lake City mosque until December, when he got a job under pressure from his father.

With patches on bullet holes and flowers still left as memorials, Trolley Square reopened Wednesday, less than 48 hours after a deadly shooting spree, to curious and supportive shoppers.

A mall executive said the opening was intended to "let the healing begin," although it was up to each shop whether to do business.

Wedding videographer Jason Dansie grabbed his camera when the shooting began.

"One of the images that will be burned in my mind is seeing him loading his weapon," Dansie told Cristina Flores of CBS station KUTV-TV (video). "It was just unvelievable."

The rampage lasted "maybe 5 minutes if that, but it was an eternity of fear," Dansie said.

Talovic's relatives recounted the difficulties the family went through when the war broke out in Bosnia in 1992 — and remembered the smiling little boy who was just 3 when the fighting began.

Relatives said their village, Talovici in northeast Bosnia, fell to Serb forces soon after the war began. "For a whole year, we were besieged and bombed day and night. We couldn't stick our noses out of the house," Redzo Talovic recalled.

In 1993, Sulejman and his mother fled to the nearby northeastern enclave of Srebrenica, living there briefly before being evacuated by the U.N., relatives said. The boy's father joined them in Tuzla in 1995 before they moved to Zagreb, Croatia, eventually becoming Croatian citizens.

The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1998, U.S. immigration officials said.

In 1995, Serb forces loyal to late ex-Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic slaughtered some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica — Europe's worst massacre of civilians since World War II.
  • Sean Alfano

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