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FBI report finds no motive for '07 mall shooting

Posted - May 17, 2009 at 5:31 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A report of an FBI investigation into a Utah mall shooting says agents could find no reason for the Feb. 12, 2007 shootings or uncover evidence of a wider plot.

The investigation was finished in 2007 and details are only coming out now through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Though the report says detectives could never pinpoint a direct motive for the shooting, agents did uncover aspects of Sulejman Talovic's character, his prejudices and things he may have said leading up to that tragic day.

Eighteen-year-old Talovic killed five and wounded four during a deadly February 2007 rampage through Trolley Square Mall. Talovic was also killed in a shootout with police. After the incident, the FBI conducted an investigation to see who that man was.

Interviews with family, friends and co-workers detailed in the report paint Sulejman Talovic as a loner who sometimes made outlandish, racist and violent statements.

"This was an individual who had come to this country, obviously a strange country to him, and was somewhat of a loner and somewhat isolated from the rest of society," said Tim Fuhrman, FBI Special Agent in Charge for the bureau's Salt Lake office.


We just were unable to pin down any particular motive as to why this would happen.

–Tim Fuhrman, FBI


Talovic moved here from Bosnia at 9 years old. He apparently lived close to Trolley Square and played there as a child.

Sometime during those years, the documents reveal he told a friend that "he was going to shoot white people like Serbs," a group of people credited for the genocide during the Bosnian War Talovic grew up in.

FBI agents say he bought shotgun shells on Feb. 8, 2007, then had a phone conversation the day before the attack, saying, "Tomorrow is going to be the happiest day of my life, but it will happen only once."

"I can't speculate as to what he may or may not have meant in saying that," Fuhrman said.

But Fuhrman says the FBI does know the attack wasn't a terrorist attack, as some had speculated. "Clearly, he had some religious beliefs, but just because someone has religious beliefs doesn't mean anything is a terrorist act, he said.

According to a source, Talovic liked listening to white supremacist music, saying, "I don't like black people. That's why I was in the KKK." He went on to say, "Let's do a drive-by on somebody."

The FBI was unable to confirm many of these statements or prove they were what he truly believed. The agency does know that Talovic acted alone, without telling anyone why, leaving no notes or clues.

"We just were unable to pin down any particular motive as to why this would happen, and unfortunately his motivations went to the grave with him," Fuhrman said.

The documents also hint at possible mental issues and drug use leading up to the shooting. Detectives state that Talovic was in a telephone romance and made mentions of getting married.

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Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and The Associated Press.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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