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Suspect arrested in shooting of 3 Palestinian students near University of Vermont

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A suspect was arrested on Sunday in connection with a shooting near the University of Vermont that resulted in the injury of three U.S. college students of Palestinian descent.

Jason J. Eaton, 48, was detained Sunday afternoon near the scene of the shooting in Burlington, Vermont, Burlington Police said in a press release. Police searched his nearby apartment and found probable cause and Eaton was arrested Sunday night. He is expected to be arraigned Monday morning.

The University of Vermont said it has “no indication” the shooting is connected to the institution and that it is saddened by the incident.

The three college students — Hisham Awartani of Brown University, Kinnan Abdalhamid of Haverford University and Tahseen Ahmed of Trinity University — were shot and injured at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday while attending a Thanksgiving holiday gathering. The students were visiting the home of one of the victim’s relatives and were walking to dinner when they were confronted by a white man with a handgun, police said.

PALESTINIAN STUDENTS SHOT, INJURED AT HOLIDAY GATHERING NEAR UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

shooting Palestinian descent

The neighborhood near the University of Vermont where three men of Palestinian descent were shot and injured Saturday evening.  (Google Maps)

The shooting happened in front of Eaton’s apartment building, according to police.

Police previously said that the gunman opened fire on the suspects “without speaking.” Two of the victims were wearing keffiyehs, traditional scarves worn by some in the Middle East. The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee said they were speaking Arabic when the shooting occurred. 

The three victims, who are all 20-years-old, remain hospitalized as of Monday morning.

Two of the victims are U.S. citizens, while the third is a legal U.S. resident.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albany, New York, office said in a statement Sunday night that 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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Burlington Police Department car

Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arrested Sunday night for the shooting of three college students in Vermont. (Burlington Police Department)

The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee earlier called on federal law enforcement to investigate the shooting as a hate crime.

The shooting comes amid escalating tension in the U.S. and around the world in the wake of the ongoing war in the Middle East between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists. A temporary cease-fire agreement between the two sides is underway that includes Hamas releasing hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

More than 14,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against Israel in decades on Oct. 7, leading to a military response from Israeli forces. Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, called the shooting in his state a tragedy and wished the victims speedy recoveries.

Burlington Police patch

Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmed were injured in the shooting. (Burlington Police Department)

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“My thoughts are with them and their families,” the governor said in a statement. “I have offered the State’s full support to the Mayor and Burlington Police Chief as this senseless crime is investigated and in support of the Palestinian and broader Burlington community. Our federal partners also stand ready to assist.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent representing Vermont, said it is “shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, VT.” 

“Hate has no place here, or anywhere. I look forward to a full investigation. My thoughts are with them and their families,” Sanders wrote on social media.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.


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