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Suspect arrested in shooting of 3 Palestinian students in Vermont

November 27, 2023
Students (from left) Tahseen Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Hisham Awartani took this photo shortly before they were shot, a family representative said
Students (from left) Tahseen Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Hisham Awartani took this photo shortly before they were shot, a family representative said

BURLINGTON — A suspect has been arrested in the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Burlington, Vermont, in a case that has garnered national attention amid concerns about rising levels of hate crimes since the Israel-Hamas war erupted. Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arrested Sunday afternoon near the scene of the attack, the Burlington Police Department said in a news release. Authorities said Eaton lives in an apartment building in front of the shooting scene and a search of his home uncovered evidence that gave investigators “probable cause to believe that Mr. Eaton perpetrated the shooting.” Officials have not detailed what charges Eaton is facing, but a police statement announcing his arrest described the case as three incidents of aggravated assault. He is expected to be arraigned in court on Monday. Police are also planning to hold a news conference Monday to discuss the case. CNN has been unable to determine if Eaton has an attorney. Authorities had been investigating whether the shooting may have been a hate crime, officials said. The students, all 20 years old, were walking along the street Saturday night when they were confronted by a man with a handgun, who opened fire and shot each of them “without speaking” before fleeing, according to the police department. Two of the students were in stable condition over the weekend but the third received “much more serious injuries,” police said, noting two were shot in the torso and another in the lower extremities. The students shot were identified as Hisham Awartani, a student at Brown University in Rhode Island; Kinnan Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Tahseen Ahmad, a student at Trinity College in Connecticut, according to the Institute for Middle East Understanding, which has provided statements on behalf of the victims’ families. The victims’ families and several civil rights groups had been urging investigators to carefully examine whether the shooting was motivated by hate, as the attack came amid a reported rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias incidents in the US since the war between Israel and Hamas ignited last month. “In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime,” Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad wrote in an earlier news release. An attorney for the victims’ families, Abed Ayoub, said he believes the students were targeted, in part, because two of them were wearing keffiyehs – traditional Palestinian scarves. “The suspect walked up to them and shot them. They weren’t robbed, they weren’t mugged,” Ayoub said on “CNN Newsroom” Sunday before the arrest was announced. “It was a targeted shooting and a targeted crime.” — CNN


November 27, 2023
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