At age 12, Talovic was before a judge for allegedly holding a knife over the head of girl while stating, "I'll kill you," according to a source who is familiar with the case.
Two years earlier, Talovic was referred to juvenile court for throwing rocks at a little girl.
About the same time, he threatened his parents' landlord with a knife.
The first girl was not struck by the stones. And the mother of the second girl snatched her up in the nick of time, just as Talovic took a swipe with the blade, according to the source, who has seen court documents relating to the case.
FBI spokesman Patrick Kiernan said investigators are aware of Talovic's juvenile criminal history and are considering what role it might have played in the Trolley Square shootings.
"It's all part of the investigation," Kiernan said. Talovic's relatives have referred to him as "a very nice person" who had never hurt anyone.
"Everything about him was nice. Everybody said so," said his father, Suljo Talovic.
But Musto Redzovic, the family's first landlord in Salt Lake City, said Talovic pulled a knife on him at their duplex apartment in 1998 or 1999. Talovic would have been 9 or 10 at the time.
"He was just a child," said Redzovic, who brushed the incident off and did not report the incident to police.
Redzovic said he believes Talovic did not recognize him and may have been simply trying to protect his family's property, a rundown apartment on Edmonds Place (642 West).
Redzovic described Talovic as "a really bored kid" who looked unhappy.
"I used to feel bad for him," said Redzovic, who believes the behavior was a direct result of the war in Bosnia. "That child must have seen some troubling things in Bosnia." The rock-throwing incident occurred on Sept. 23, 1999. During a juvenile court trial, the allegations were found to be true, although Talovic denied them.
David Geary, now an assistant state attorney general, was Talovic's defense attorney, but on Thursday said he had only a vague recollection of the case.
He guessed that the judge would have ordered counseling and education courses for the boy. Juvenile judges usually do not find it appropriate to hand down harsh sentences to 10-year-olds, Geary noted.
Geary said it was likely the judge took into consideration that the boy and his family were refugees from war-torn Bosnia.
"It's a struggle to find the right interventions," Geary said.
"But the judges worked hard to tailor their remedies to individual situations. They did account for the background of the child and the situation they came from." The knife brandishing episode involving the girl occurred on April 24, 2001, and was eventually dismissed because the victim and her mother could not be located.
Talovic was also referred to court for stealing fireworks from a Smith's grocery store on June 22, 2001.
On July 9, 2001, Talovic admitted the shoplifting crime, and it was the last time he appeared in juvenile court, according to the source, quoting court records.
Court officials said they have been unable to find any juvenile court history on Talovic. The source said the records were expunged in October, when Talovic turned 18.
------ Tribune reporters Michael N. Westley, Pamela Manson and Steve Gehrke contributed to this story.