Three Students of Palestinian Descent Shot in Burlington, Vermont

Police say the shooter, a white male, discharged at least four rounds “without speaking.”

ADC

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Update, November 27: Jason J. Eaton, a 48-year-old Burlington resident, was arrested on Sunday in connection with the shooting. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Three students of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in Burlington, Vermont, after a white man confronted the group Saturday night, shooting them at least four times, police said.

Police said the gunman, who has not been identified or apprehended, shot the men “without speaking.” The victims are all 20 year old men; two of them were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, at the time of the shooting, Vermont Public Radio reported.

Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee identified the three students as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ahmed, students at Brown, Haverford, and Trinity, respectively. Two are in stable condition and one suffered more serious injuries, according to police.

“My deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families,” Chief of Police Jon Murad said in a statement that cited the current “charged moment,” a reference to the raft of incidents, both antisemitic and Islamophobic, that has taken place across college campuses and cities in the US amid the Israel-Hamas war. CNN reports that two of the students are US citizens and one is a legal resident. In the same statement, Murad urged caution, stressing that officials had little information to confirm a motive as of this time. “The fact is that we don’t yet know as much as we want to right now. But I urge the public to avoid making conclusions based on statements from uninvolved parties who know even less.”

As news of the shooting emerged on Sunday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced that it was offering a $10,000 reward for more information on the shooter. ADC Director Abed Ayoub called on police to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

“We are praying for a full recovery of the victims, and will stand by to support the families in any way that is needed,” Ayoub said in a statement that claimed the three men were speaking Arabic when the gunman opened fire. “Given the information collected and provided, it is clear that hate was a motivating factor in this shooting, and we call on law enforcement to investigate it as such. The surge in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment we are experiencing is unprecedented, and this is another example of that hate turning violent.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday called the violence “shocking and deeply unsettling.”

Last month, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy was fatally stabbed inside his home in Plainfield, Illinois. His mother suffered serious injuries after being stabbed multiple times. Police charged the family’s landlord with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and two counts of a hate crime.

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