The mayor and police chief assured Bosnian immigrants Thursday that authorities would not stand for any backlash against them after an Bosnian teenager shot five people to death in a crowded shopping mall and then died in a shootout with police.
As many as 10,000 people from the Balkans, many of them war refugees and some Muslim, have made Utah their home.
Mayor Rocky Anderson condemned critics who lashed out at Bosnian immigrants in blogs, e-mails and phone calls, complaining that they jumped to “unjustified, outrageous conclusions” simply because a Muslim was involved.
A group of Bosnian-Americans gathered in the back room of the Bosna restaurant said no one in their community had been directly threatened since Monday’s rampage.
Police Chief Chris Burbank said investigators still have not been able to determine a motive for the attack by Sulejman Talovic, who shot nine people, five fatally, at the Trolley Square mall before he was stopped by police. He and his family emigrated to Utah as war refugees in 1998.
Bosnia’s ambassador to the United States, Bisera Turkovic, said her country was shocked by the teenager’s actions.
Bosnians “can’t believe that somebody of Bosnian origin can do something like this,” Turkovic said Thursday during on a two-day visit from Washington.
“We owe this country much for our freedom, our prosperity,” she said. “So for this to happen to people who are welcoming to us is shocking.”
Four people who were wounded in the attack remained hospitalized.
Also Thursday, police released the names of four Salt Lake City officers who confronted Talovic: Sgts. Andy Oblad and Josh Scharman, and detectives Dustin Marshall and Brett Olsen.
They will be honored by the Utah Legislature and Gov. Jon Huntsman on Friday, along with Ogden officer Ken Hammond, who was off-duty and eating dinner at the mall. Hammond was credited with preventing Talovic from killing more people before other officers arrived.