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Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Suljo Talovic stands in the bedroom of his son, who shot nine people Monday evening at Trolley Square.

A heartbroken and bewildered Suljo Talovic, father of 18-year-old gunman Sulejman Talovic, says he had no idea before Monday's Trolley Square shootings that his son had weapons.

The teen's father said Thursday that he wants to find out who gave them to his son and what — and perhaps who else — was behind the killings.

Police say they have not been able to find a motive so far. Nor have they seen any indication that the killings were based on race or religion.

In a series of four interviews, some by telephone and one at the family home in Salt Lake City's Fairpark neighborhood, the 42-year-old Talovic apologized over and over about the events of Monday night.

The immigrant from Bosnia spoke in broken but eloquent English.

"I am very sorry for everybody who has died," he said. "I apologize for everybody. I'm so sorry."

He said he never saw the young man with a gun and doesn't know where he got the weapons.

"I need, I ask like, I need for my information: Who give him guns and bullets and everything?" he said.

The family on Wednesday arranged for their son's body to be picked up at a mortuary. It is to be sent to Bosnia for a funeral. The father will fly back to bury him, and the family is in need of donations.

"I feel sorry for everybody. I have no heartbeat. I am crying for everybody, not only for my son. For everybody!" Suljo Talovic said.

He repeatedly insisted that he had never seen his son with a gun. He said he did not know where his son got the weapons and ammunition.

"I think somebody's behind him, somebody's trailing him," he said.

Asked to explain what that meant, his sister, Ajka Omerovic, said, "He wants to tell you that he thinks there is somebody who push him to do that." Does he have any idea who? "No, really, no. We want to find out, just like you guys, all other people," she said.

"He think that somebody like, I don't know, behind all of that, set up Sulejman." This person told him to shoot people, she said, relaying the father's feeling.

"He was good-minded boy," Omerovic said. "We don't think he can do it. Like we told you guys, we can't believe our eyes."

Everyone who knew his son said he was a nice guy, Suljo Talovic added. "He's got a good character. He's not changed, nothing. He's like working Monday night."

Suljo Talovic did not know about his son's friends, he said. His son was happy and normal, liked fishing, did not play a lot of video games, listened to a little music, watched a little TV, he said.

Asked why Sulejman Talovic stopped attending school, his father said he did not understand that. "Maybe somebody knows what happened. I don't know nothing about his school and everything."

The son worked in a laundry, while his father had construction jobs, he said. Asked if his son was upset about something that happened at work, he replied, "No, no, his heart be on it. He smile overtime."

His wife, Sabira Talovic — Sulejman's mother — is not feeling well, he said.

"She's feeling bad. I'm feeling for my son, I'm feeling for everybody who has died," he said. "She lots of crying, crying, crying."

Inside the small home Thursday, Sabira Talovic leaned against a door frame, her face grief-stricken and eyes lined with dark rings. The couple's three daughters — Medina, 13; Fatima, 11; and Savila, 7 — stood nearby, one holding a gift rose a neighbor had left outside. The slight, bearded Suljo Talovic at times talked on a cell phone, at times spoke with the Deseret Morning News.

Sabira Talovic, 37, was so devastated she could not talk to the media about their son's rampage.

Her husband gave this account of the night of the killings. "He's like working Monday," he said. "I come face to face with him."

The last time he saw him was when father and son came home from work that day, and they both showered in separate showers, in the family's two bathrooms.

"I go in bathroom, he go other bathroom," he said. Then Sulejman went to his room in the basement, while the father went into the living room upstairs. The father was watching the television news when the news broke about the Trolley Square killings. "I see somebody shot," Suljo Talovic said.

He went to the window, looked out, and saw that Sulejman's car was not there.

About 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, police officers came to the home. A police officer "says what happen: your son shoot," the father said.

The news was so shocking that Sabira Talovic had to be hospitalized. "She like almost die," he said.

The family was so shocked, "everybody cried," the father said. "No eating. I'm not eating like two, three days. My wife, too."

He wondered if the horrors in Bosnia, the war-torn nation the family left nearly a decade ago, could have influenced events here. But he did not know what would suddenly have caused his son to break now.

Omerovic said the family's experience in the war was one of privation.

"Only suffering from war," she said. "Like don't have enough food, don't have place to stay."


E-mail: bau@desnews.com