Melis Ibisevic, a 29-year-old Deputy Sheriff who escaped the Srebrenica genocide and arrived in the US as a refugee with his mother and sister, will next month receive a Sheriff Commendation Award for trying to save a man’s life, the Denver-based Westword media publication.
Ibisevic was at a charity event at a restaurant when someone ran in and said that a man had just jumped off a roof nearby. Ibisevic reacted quickly.
“The guy didn’t make it, even though we tried our best and gave it all we had to attempt to save this man,” Ibisevic told Westword.
However, because of his actions, Ibisevic will be awarded on February 21 this year.
“But it’s not just his first-responder instincts that make Ibisevic stand out in the sheriff’s department,” the Westword article said.
Ibisevic was born in 1990 in a village near Srebrenica. His father Junuz was also a police officer. He joined Bosnia’s Army at the beginning of the war and was engaged in defending the town.
The last time Melis saw her father was July 11, 1995 - the day Bosnian Serb forces marched into Srebrenica.
Junuz Ibsevic's remains were found in a mass grave about 10 years ago, Westword reported.
“According to the autopsy, there were bullet holes through his rib cage, his head, and his legs were missing. He didn’t have his legs," Melis told the newspaper.
While Junuz Ibisevic was trying to escape that day, the Bosnian Serb soldiers sent Melis, his sister and their mother to an old factory where they separated the women and children from men. This is where Melis lost his grandfather.
The family was then transported to the territory controlled by the Bosnian Army. They ended up in Sarajevo, but in 1999, Mina Ibisevic applied to move to the US and the family ended up in Denver three years later. None of them knew English.
However, Mina Ibisevic soon managed to get a job as a cleaner at a casino cleaner while Melis enrolled in sixth grade at Lakewood Elementary School.
Melis said he always wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and become a cop.
“The stories mom tells me of, ‘You’ll be like a superhero, you’re protecting people, saving lives...’ — that’s really what inspired me,” he told Westword.