Three Palestinian University Students Injured in Vermont Shooting

( – Four shots rang out in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday evening, November 25. The white middle-aged assailant fled, but three 20-year-old college students of Palestinian descent received wounds, including one shot in his spine. The following day, police arrested 48-year-old Jason Eaton in connection with the shootings.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” Eaton told an officer, according to an arrest affidavit. When an ATF agent asked Eaton why he was waiting for the authorities, he replied that he wished to speak to his lawyer. Officers obtained a warrant for a search and found a shotgun and a Ruger .380 with bullets of a brand matching those found at the scene.

Sarah George, the Chittenden County State’s Attorney, filed three second-degree attempted murder charges against Eaton. During an arraignment hearing, he pleaded not guilty to the charges on November 27. Prosecutors allege that Eaton confronted the three students on Saturday evening as they walked through the neighborhood past his apartment building.

The three young men were visiting a relative for the Thanksgiving holiday and had attended a birthday party for eight-year-old twins, cousins of one of the victims, earlier that day. After returning, they decided to walk around the neighborhood, talk, and smoke, but Eaton allegedly opened fire on them.

Prosecutors claim Eaton shot Tahseen Ahmed, a premed and mathematics student at Trinity College who recently completed his EMT certification, in the upper chest. Another shot caught Kinnan Abdalhamid, a biology major and track star at Haverford College, in the glute as he tried to sprint away to seek cover. He didn’t even realize he’d received an injury until after begging a neighbor to call 911 for his friends.

However, Hisham Awartani, a mathematics and archeology student at Brown University, sustained a potentially life-changing injury to his spine. According to family members, the bullet remains lodged in Awartani’s spine because it’s too dangerous to remove, and doctors don’t think he’ll regain movement in his legs.

Nikolas Kerest, the US Attorney for the District of Vermont, is evaluating the case to see whether it warrants federal hate crime charges. To date, authorities have found no motive for the crime. Family members and community members from Islamic, Arab, and Palestinian communities have called for more aggressive prosecution of the crime as a hate crime.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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