The FBI is helping St. Louis police investigate a possible hate crime after three black teenagers allegedly accused a white woman of being Bosnian before beating her unconscious.
The attack Friday on a 26-year-old Bosnian woman occurred in the same Bevo Mill neighborhood where a 32-year-old Bosnian man named Zemir Begic was killed last weekend by a group of hammer-wielding teenagers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Police are not investigating Begic’s death as a hate crime.
The woman, who was not identified, told police that three black teens tried to block her vehicle Friday as she was driving, pulling a gun on her and telling her to stop. One of the men allegedly struck the windshield with what appeared to be a crowbar and dragged the woman out of the vehicle. She said one of the men asked where she was from, and she told them she was European.
“You’re a [expletive] liar. You’re Bosnian. I should just kill you now,” Police Chief Sam Dotson said of the woman’s account, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The men allegedly pushed the woman to the ground and beat her. She was later found unconscious by a passerby.
Police are labeling the assault as a hate crime, which could lead to additional charges and prison time. No suspects in the attack have been found, the Post-Dispatch reported.
In Begic’s case, three suspects have been arrested and one charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Another suspect remained at large Friday. At least two of the teens are black, and one is Hispanic. Police said they have no evidence to believe Begic was targeted because of his race, the Post-Dispatch reported.
On Friday, 19 organizations, many that work directly with Bosnians and other refugees, released a statement, urging police to beef up security in the area.
“Bosnians know the consequences of division and violence as well as anyone in our community,” the statement said. “Let us build upon that experience as we repair our broken hearts and divided city.”
• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at email@example.com.
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