ST. LOUIS, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Bosnian community erupted into anger and demonstrations Sunday night after a local man was murdered with hammers Sunday morning.
Two teen males, 15 and 16, were arrested Sunday, and a third, 17, turned himself in to city police headquarters Sunday night in connection to the death of Zemir Begic, 32.
Police say Begic was attacked around 1:15 a.m. in the Bevo Mill neighborhood by a group of teens who were damaging his car with hammers. When Begic confronted them, they turned their weapons on him, hitting him on the head, abdomen and face.
He was taken to St. Louis University hospital, where he later died.
Eyewitness Suad Nuranjkovic, 49, was in the passenger seat of Begic's car when at least five teens approached them with hammers. He says he was able to escape and hide in a parking lot across the street.
"I was afraid that if one of them had a gun, they were going to shoot me, so I didn't know what to do," he said.
Another, Seldin Dzananovic, 24, said the group approached him about an hour earlier, but he was able to fight them off, suffering cuts on his hands and neck.
While the incident has no connection to the ongoing unrest related to the death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, the area is on a hair trigger.
At least 50 people, mostly Bosnians, blocked Gravois Ave. near Itaska Street Sunday night, accusing members of the black community of targeting Bosnians.
"It's every month that Bosnians are getting killed," a protester told KMOX. "We came here for freedom from the Serbs -- to get our freedom. But now, we're getting killed by African Americans. That's not fair."
Police said Begic's attackers were black, but the incident did not appear to be racially motivated, but likely a crime of opportunity.
"There is no indication that the gentleman last night was targeted because he was Bosnian," said St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. "There's no indication that they knew each other."
A Go Fund Me page has raised nearly $12,000 to cover arrangements for Begic's funeral, set to take place in Iowa.