Members of St. Louis’ large Bosnian community in the Bevo Mill neighborhood packed the room at the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce office on Gravois Thursday night, looking for answers from the city’s police chief on what he’s going to do about a recent rash of violence in the area. Two people have been shot to death in the last three weeks.
Chief Sam Dotson joined the local alderwoman and several other commanders from the police department to meet with residents who say they’re scared following the recent surge of violence.
A nineteen year old clerk at the Quick Stop cellular phone store on Chippewa was gunned down May 31st. His brother was also shot and wounded.
Then last week a 30 year old father with a second baby on the way was gunned down while working the overnight shift at a Seven-Eleven in the Bevo neighborhood.
The president of the chamber of commerce here says he’s nearing his limit.
“Well I am city resident for 19 years,” Sadik Kukic said. “That is how long I’ve been in United States in St. Louis, and for the first time in my life that thought has passed through my head, to move out of St. Louis.”
The publisher of the local Bosnian newspaper, Sabah, is Sukrija Dzidzovic. He says word of the violence is spreading back to his homeland, and costing St. Louis its reputation among those looking for a potential new home in America’s largest Bosnian community.
“This is a great town for new comers. A great town for new businesses. A great town for residential areas, but recently, suddenly, what’s going on around is not good for such positive stories,” he said.
Chief Dotson told the group assembled that, as hard as it may seem to believe when you’re this close to the problem, things are actually improving.
“What we’re here to say that actually those are isolated incidents,” Dotson said in an interview. “Crime is down in this area seven percent. Now I’m not going to be polyana-ish about it. I know that any crime is too much. But what I’m here to say is that we’re here in numbers to make sure any crime is addressed.”
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