On their minds were Zemir Begic, who was beaten to death with a hammer Nov. 30, and a woman pulled from her car Friday and assaulted — one of the men who attacked her allegedly said he and the others should kill her because she is Bosnian.
Residents want to make sure police keep up a strong, long-term presence in the neighborhood, said Sadik Kukic, who heads the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce. The substation would be on the second floor of the chamber’s building at 5039 Gravois Avenue.
Capt. Steven Mueller Sr., commander of the police district that covers that area, confirmed that a police substation is in the planning stage and pledged to continue to work with residents to make the area safer.
He told the crowd that police had beefed up the number of officers in the neighborhood, added two-officer foot patrols and were working hard to break up area gangs that “really seem to be a center of the problems.”
Many in the crowd were upset about a video making its way around social media of a woman making hateful comments against Bosnians. They worried she was inciting violence toward them. Mueller said officers learned the woman is from Alaska.
William Woods, the special agent in charge of the FBI in St. Louis, sought to assure the crowd that his office was investigating whether both recent crimes were hate crimes.
Still, the mood was positive, with many saying a few criminals would not destroy the area they love so much.
“We are not going to give up,” said Ibrahim Vajzovic, a neighborhood property owner and businessman. “We are not going to leave this area.”