Police Arrest Suspect In Shooting of 3 Students of Palestinian Descent Near University of Vermont Campus
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A suspect has been arrested in connection with the shooting of three U.S. college students of Palestinian descent.
Police say Hisham Awartani of Brown University, Kinnan Abdalhamid of Haverford University, and Tahseen Ahmed of Trinity University were injured during a Thanksgiving holiday gathering on Saturday near the University of Vermont campus.
One young man suffered serious injuries but the others are in stable condition. All three remain hospitalized as of Monday morning.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested Jason J. Eaton, 48, while searching the shooting area in Burlington Sunday, the Burlington Police Department said in a statement.
"Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled," Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a statement Sunday. "All three victims were struck, two in their torsos and one in the lower extremities."
Police added that the shooting took place in front of Eaton's apartment.
Two of the victims were wearing traditional scarves, or keffiyehs, worn by some in the Middle East. According to the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, the group of 20-year-olds were speaking Arabic when confronted by Eaton.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee released a statement Sunday saying that the victims were Palestinian American college students and that there is "reason to believe this shooting occurred because the victims are Arab."
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said there is no additional information to suggest a motive. He expressed sympathies for the victims and their families during the press conference Sunday.
"In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime. And I have already been in touch with federal investigatory and prosecutorial partners to prepare for that if it's proven," he said.
"The fact is that we don't yet know as much as we want to right now," Murad added. "But I urge the public to avoid making conclusions based on statements from uninvolved parties who know even less."
The University of Vermont said it has "no indication" is connected with the school and that it is saddened by the incident.
The FBI in Albany, New York posted a statement late Sunday on X saying it has been investigating the shooting.
"The FBI continues to actively investigate the shooting in Burlington alongside our partners at Burlington Police Department, ATF, and several other federal, state, and local agencies," the statement said. "Our office has deployed numerous technical, forensic, and investigative resources in support of the investigation, to include victim services, and computer and cell phone analysis."
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