A Shooting in Utah Without Easy Explanations

Fatal shootings at a Utah mall prompt a reporter to go looking for answers to an obvious question: Why? But sometimes there simply are no easy explanations.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

NPR's Howard Berkes has spent much of the week reporting on the terrible shooting that took place in a shopping mall in Salt Lake City. But he found in his Reporter's Notebook a perspective he hadn't heard before.

HOWARD BERKES: These mass shootings seem all too familiar now, as do the makeshift memorials, the indescribable loss, and the billboards urging prayer. But there's a new twist in the genre: cultures unfamiliar to most of us. Think of the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota, the Hmong hunter in Wisconsin, the Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, and now an 18-year-old Bosnian Muslim in Utah. Trying to fathom the unfathomable seems more difficult than ever.

Mr. NAROUFF AREFAVICH(ph): Probably he got some his own reason. He was maybe sick. This is hard to say, really.

BERKES: Narouff Arefavich struggled to understand as he stood in Bosna(ph), a cramped and dark restaurant. As many as 10,000 Bosnians live in Utah. Arefavich is a 53-year-old painter who fled violence in his homeland at roughly the same time as Sulejman Talovic, who shot nine people at the Trolley Square Mall before being killed by police.

Mr. AREFAVICH: I am deeply sorry what's happen, as a father, as a person, as a human being. All my sympathy for the people who got losses. And I believe they don't have nothing to do - any connection with the Bosnian people in here.

BERKES: Could it have been the war, I asked? Talovic saw his village destroyed and escapes Srebrenica before 8,000 Muslim boys and men were killed.

Mr. AREFAVICH: Can be anything. I don't know, but the right reason probably he take with him.

BERKES: Is it tough here for Bosnian kids?

Mr. AREFAVICH: The young people are just actually pretty much part of this society. They learn fast language. They are a part of this society. And I believe most of them, they don't have a problem.

BERKES: Arefavich has heard that some Bosnians have been harassed since the shooting and that some blame Bosnian Muslims. He has a simple response.

Mr. AREFAVICH: As a community, we don't have nothing to do with that what's happened. Everyone is responsible for his own action.

BERKES: Arefavich is as puzzled as anyone. Despite a shared culture and faith, and a shared experience with war and refuge, the shooting makes as little sense to him as it does to the rest of us.

SIMON: NPR's Howard Berkes in Salt Lake City.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.