White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that the three college students of Palestinian descent who were shot near the University of Vermont over the weekend “should be back in school with their classmates, not in a hospital room.”
The statement came soon after suspect Jason Eaton, 48, appeared virtually in Chittenden County Superior Court and entered a not guilty plea to all three counts of attempted second-degree murder.
“The president and the first lady were horrified to learn about the three college students of Palestinian descent, two of whom are American citizens, who were shot Saturday in Burlington, Vermont. The president continues to receive updates from his team about the ongoing investigation,” Jean-Pierre told reporters gathered at the White House on Monday.
“These students were taking part in a uniquely American tradition, gathering with family and loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving. They should be back in school with their classmates, not in a hospital room,” she continued.
SUSPECT ACCUSED OF SHOOTING 3 PALESTINIAN STUDENTS IN VERMONT ENTERS PLEA IN FIRST COURT APPEARANCE
“While we are waiting for more facts, we know this. There is absolutely, absolutely no place for violence or hate in America,” Jean-Pierre added. “No person should worry about being targeted while going about their daily lives. And far too many Americans know a family member injured or killed as a result of gun violence. We cannot and we will not accept that.”
Eaton is currently being held without bail ahead of a bond hearing, which a judge said will be scheduled in the coming days.
The three college students – Hisham Awartani of Brown University, Kinnan Abdalhamid of Haverford College and Tahseen Ahmed of Trinity College – were shot and injured at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday while out for a Thanksgiving holiday gathering in Burlington, Vermont.
SUSPECT ARRESTED IN SHOOTING OF 3 PALESTINIAN STUDENTS NEAR UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
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, according to police, who said the gunman opened fire on the victims “without speaking.”
The shooting happened in front of Eaton’s apartment building, police said. Eaton was detained Sunday afternoon near the scene of the shooting.
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.
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.
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“The president, first lady, and everyone here at the White House join Americans across the country in praying for their full recovery,” Jean-Pierre said.
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.