Family of slain 21-year-old man devastated

By Hailey Winslow, General assignment reporter, hwinslow@wjxt.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 11:10:18 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 22 2014 11:43:40 PM EDT

VIDEO: Police still have very little answers as why a young man is dead after being shot at the BP station near Regency. Tonight family and friend gathered there to mourn his death.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Family and friends of a 21-year-old Jacksonville man shot and killed at a BP gas station Monday night said they're devastated by what happened.

Nedzad Botonjic was shot several times and killed about 6:30 p.m. at the gas station on Atlantic Boulevard near Monument Road in Regency.

"I didn't know yesterday was going to be my last time seeing him. I would have never left,” said Tonia Brown, the victim's girlfriend. “Just anything and everything a girl could want. This is what he was. And now he's just gone.”

Brown said she knew something was wrong when Botonjic didn't call Tuesday morning.

She said they started dating a month ago, but they knew each other for a year and worked together at McDonald's.

“He's working hard to take care of his family; he doesn't deserve this,” Brown said. “It's not fair; it's not fair."

Botonjic's family is an emotional wreck. His dad, Rufad Botonjic, watched BP's surveillance video of the incident. He said his son was leaving the gas station when two men in a red car pulled up alongside him.

“The guy comes on the passenger side. I don't understand why the guy even came,” Rufad Botonjic said. “He talked something with my son. Then he came on the driver side -- something with hands. I think, at this point, my boy had enough. He tried to say to him, 'Go away, what do you want from me, man?'"

Investigators said a man believed to be from the Orlando area shot Nedzad several times. They have released a picture from surveillance video obtained by the BP gas station of the man (pictured).

Witnesses told police two men had an altercation outside the store in the parking lot with Nedzad, then sped off down Live Oak Drive after the shooting in a small red four-door vehicle (pictured below in surveillance photo). The vehicle has a temporary tag.

Nedzad was born in Germany, grew up in Jacksonville and went to Englewood and Sandalwood high schools.

His family doesn't have any idea who would do this to Nedzad or why, because he didn't have an enemy in the world.

Rufad Botonjic said his son just told him a couple days ago how he couldn't wait to get married one day and have kids. He wanted to be a lawyer or musician.

"Music, music was his world,” Brown said. “He could rap his butt off. You wouldn't even believe it. Music was that boy's passion. He was just making CDs.”

A funeral for Nedzad will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida on St. Johns Bluff Road. 

A grief-stricken community gathered with heavy hearts Tuesday night to honor Botonjic's life.

Fifty people turned out for Tuesday night's vigil at the BP gas station where he was killed, to honor Botonjic. Botonojic's girlfriend, Tonia Brown, told News4Jax during the vigil that she spoke to him just minutes before the shooting.

"He had just texted me at 6:19, you guys don’t understand. Right before the incident, meaning I'm the last person he talked to before it happened, before they took him away from me," said Brown.

The 21-year-old went to Englewood High School and worked at McDonalds. His family told News4Jax that he loved music and had big dreams of becoming a lawyer. Many of the people who gathered Tuesday wiped away tears and held each other for comfort, each of them demanding justice for Botonjic.

"Every day he'd come and tell my grandchildren stories. He's been doing this for a couple of years. When they found out - the first thing they said this morning was 'Who's going to tell us the stories?' This is something that should have never have happened," said Botonjic's neighbor, Denise Hammack.

Anyone who has any information about the location of the vehicle or the identity of the suspects is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.

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