UPTOWN — A North Side jiu-jitsu instructor who went viral after stopping a teen from breaking into his car in 2019 made headlines again when he stopped someone attacking a convenience store employee last week, streaming the aftermath on Facebook Live.
Idriz Redzovic, a third-degree black belt who teaches jiu-jitsu, has been practicing the martial art for more than 20 years. He was taking two of his kids for Slurpees at 7-Eleven, 1532 W. Lawrence Ave., the night of June 23 when he overheard a woman complaining about a man harassing her outside the store, he said.
The 30-year-old man eventually argued with and punched a 19-year-old 7-Eleven employee, police and Redzovic said, leading the martial artist to restrain and pin the man to the ground.
Redzovic continued to hold the man down while while waiting for police, he said. As witnesses began recording the aftermath, Redzovic started his own livestream lasting nearly 20 minutes.
“I wanted to document what was going on, because I wanted to have my side of the story,” Redzovic said. “I put my phone down and I just went Facebook Live just to be covered and show that I never hurt the guy. I wanted documentation where if something did happen, I’m protected legally.”
The video shows Redzovic repeatedly asking the man to calm down as he struggles and pleads to be let go. Redzovic continued to restrain the man, asked if he needs water, and helped direct customers trying to leave the store to the rear exit after employees locked the front doors, the video shows.
“Look I wasn’t going to bother you until I stood there and saw you punch him in the face,” Redzovic said in the video.
Officers arrive around 13 minutes into the footage and handcuff the man.
Towards the end of the stream, police can be overheard asking someone “Do you want him arrested?” and someone off-camera responds, “Yeah, hell yeah.” Redzovic also can be seen asking officers to give the man some water.
Police charged the man with misdemeanor battery and retail theft, saying he’d shoplifted food from the store before punching the worker. The 19-year-old employee who was attacked declined comment when reached by phone.
Despite appearing calm in the video, Redzovic said his adrenaline was up and he hasn’t been able to sleep well since the incident.
“I was nervous about keeping the video up but I talked to some lawyers and they said I was fine,” Redzovic said. “I also talked to some older friends of mine that I respect and they told me there’s so much benefit from that video because it shows how to stay calm and how I protected the guy in the video from even hurting himself.”
Redzovic said he neglected to turn off the stream while officers were questioning him, giving police his contact information while the camera was still running. This has led to him receiving messages of encouragement, along with threats and people challenging him to fights, he said.
“I forgot I was live. My adrenaline was rushing and I was trying to stay calm and collected,” Redzovic said. “If I could go back I’d have done a few things differently …These messages are exhausting. I’m a little nervous. My mom is scared right now.”
But if he was put in that situation again he wouldn’t hesitate to intervene because of his religion, he said.
“I’m Muslim and a saying we have is that if you see evil, intervene with your hand and stop it. If you can’t do it with your hand, speak up with your tongue,” Redzovic said.
A different employee working at the 7-Eleven Thursday said he appreciated Redzovic stepping in to assist his coworker.
“The situation could have always been worse and our man here didn’t want to escalate that,” the employee said. “Also having done that in general, not everyone when faced with that responsibility of defending someone, not everyone will. That man did a public service.”
Redzovic was in the news for similar reasons when he stopped an 18-year-old from rummaging through his unlocked car parked outside his Lincoln Square martial arts school in 2019.
In that instance Redzovic used his skills to detain the teen while he called police and the teen’s father. He previously told Block Club he declined to press charges because he felt the teen had made a dumb mistake and he didn’t want to make things worse for him.
Redzovic also wishes the man he pinned down last week reevaluates his life, he said.
“I just wish the best for him. I don’t mean him any harm. I want him to know that,” Redzovic said.
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