A poster-sized portrait of Haris Gogic covered the front door Sunday of the south St. Louis convenience store he owned with his brother as hundreds of people gathered there to honor the teen.
The 19-year-old was shot and killed Friday at about 11:40 a.m. when he and his brother, Mirza Gogic, rushed into the store upon hearing Mirza Gogic’s girlfriend screaming. She was working as a cashier while the brothers were inside their home, which is connected to the store near Chippewa Street and Alfred Avenue.
One grabbed a baseball bat and they rushed in. But the gunman opened fire, shooting Haris Gogic in the head and Mirza Gogic in the arm. The 23-year-old was among the mourners Sunday, his right arm bandaged and in a sling.
“His mother can’t even open the door because she says she still smells his blood,” said Maida Avdic, a cousin of the Gogics. “He died right there in the doorway. Right in there front of her.”
The gathering Sunday lasted more than an hour, as neighbors, friends and family left a pile of flowers, teddy bears, balloons and even food piled in front of the store.
Police still are searching for the killer, who fled in either a silver Ford Edge or Escape after the holdup at the Quick Stop Convenience and Wireless store.
“We’ve seen the tape,” Avdic said of the surveillance footage. “He just walked out of the store and to his car like nothing.”
Avdic said the cashier had opened the register for the gunman, but that he started to choke her, which is why she screamed, alerting the brothers.
“These were just honest young men who tried to make an honest living,” Avdic said. “They were giving people free food in this neighborhood, and this is what you get.”
But the community also been supportive, she said.
“The first flowers we got were from a 4-year-old little girl,” Avdic said.
A cousin-in-law of the Gogics, Mirza Bijedic, said people he knows to be living on food stamps because of his work as a social worker have donated money to the family, which doesn’t have medical insurance to cover the costs of the elder brother’s wounds.
Bijedic said Haris Gogic was the poster child of a Bosnian immigrant living the American dream.
“He was born premature, survived four years in the war, finished high school and now his life was put out like this,” he said.
Moments later, Amela Gogic emerged from the home for the first time since her sons were shot. Two men and a woman held each of her arms as walked toward the mementos that had piled up near the entrance of the store.
She put her hands to her face, buried it in her husband’s shoulder and wept when she saw her son’s portrait.
Anyone with information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-8477.
SOURCE: St. Louis Post Dispatch
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