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Vermont shooting updates: Palestinian victims’ families share message about suspect Jason Eaton

New details are emerging about Jason Eaton, the suspected gunman who shot three Palestinian students in a possible hate crime near the University of Vermont campus.

The three 20-year-olds – Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmad – were ambushed by a gunman in a shooting as they walked to a family Thanksgiving in Burlington on Saturday night.

Mr Awartani suffered the most severe injuries, with a bullet lodged in his spine, his mother Elizabeth Price told CNN. Doctors fear he may never walk again.

Mr Eaton, 48, was arrested on Sunday near the scene of the attack. On Monday he pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder at his arraignment.

In 2019, his ex-girlfriend reported Mr Eaton harrassed her, per NBC News. The two “had several domestic disputes” in the past, according to a police write-up obtained by NBC.

Mr Eaton’s resume, seen by The Daily Beast, reveals he has worked as a Boy Scouts scoutmaster, Harvard research assistant and ski instructor.

His mother told the outlet she was “shocked” by his alleged involvement. While he previously struggled with depression, they had enjoyed Thanksgiving together just days earlier, she said.

Key points

  • Suspect pleads not guilty during arraignment

  • Ex-girlfriend of suspected gunman told police he harassed her

  • One student discharged from hospital as other two remain in ICU

  • Mother of student says ‘it’s unlikely he’ll be able to use his legs again'

  • Injured student Hisham Awartani speaks out about the attack

  • Families of students release joint statement calling for hate crime charges

What is a hate crime?

15:43 , Megan Sheets

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Monday that the shooting of three Palestinian students in Vermont would be investigated as a hate crime.

Under federal law, a hate crime is defined as a criminal act motivated by bias “against people or groups with specific characteristics that are defined by the law”.

Examples of these criminal acts “include assault, murder, arson, vandalism, or threats to commit such crimes”, the DOJ website states.

The hate crime investigation in the Vermont shooting came a month after the DOJ launched a probe into the stabbing of a Palestinian-American boy and his mother in Illinois. The boy was killed, his mother injured, and their landlord arrested for the attack.

In his statement on Monday, Mr Garland said: “There is understandable fear in communities across the country. Even as we speak, the ATF and FBI are investigating the tragic shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont. That investigation, including whether this is a hate crime, is ongoing.

“The Justice Department is poised to provide any assistance that our state and local law enforcement partners need as we work together to protect our communities.”

The violence in the US comes amid Israel’s ongoing siege in Gaza following Hamas attacks on 7 October.

Students’ families condemn media reports that link suspect’s mental health to the attack

14:26 , Katie Hawkinson

The families of the three wounded students are calling on the media to report on suspected gunman Jason Eaton “responsibly and respectfully by not attempting to turn their attacker into a victim.”

“Millions of people in America and across the globe struggle with mental health challenges. That does not make them pick up a gun and attack people based on their identity,” the statement shared by the Institute for Middle East Understanding reads.

The statement comes after Mr Eaton’s mother told The Daily Beast he had struggled with depression in the past.

“We do not accept what this wrongfully implies about people who struggle with their mental health, nor do we accept it as justification or context for this heinous, hate-driven crime,” the statement reads.

“Further, we see the clear double standard; when white men commit crimes, they are described as victims struggling with their mental health and testimonies from family members are shared to describe them as good people—people of color are not given this same treatment,” the statement continues.

Protesters call for divestment from Israel during university president’s speech at vigil for injured student

13:00 , Katie Hawkinson

On Monday evening, Brown University President Christina Paxson spoke at a vigil for student Hisham Awartani, one of three 20-year-olds injured by a gunman in Burlington, Vermont last week.

“Although we don’t know the details yet, it is horrific that the mere fact that Hisham and his friends were simply being who they are, proud Palestinians, wearing keffiyehs, speaking in Arabic, that may be what prompted the shooting,” she said at the vigil, per The Providence Journal.

Several attendees shouted at Ms Paxson that Brown University must divest from Israel and held signs carrying a similar message, the Journal reported.

“This is how you want to honor your friend? I’m sorry,” Ms Paxson told the crowd when she walked away from the podium, per the Journal. Students chanted “shame” as she left.

Suspected gunman could face life in prison if found guilty

12:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Suspected gunman Jason Eaton could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted on three counts of second-degree attempted murder, according to Sarah George, the Chittenden County State’s Attorney.

Mr Eaton pleaded not guilty to all three counts on Monday following his arrest the day prior.

While they have not yet made a decision, federal investigators are looking into whether the attack could be considered a hate crime. The three students — all of Palestinian descent — were wearing keffiyehs and speaking both Arabic and English at the time of the attack, police previously said.

Suspected gunman’s resume revealed new details about professional, personal life

11:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Jason Eaton has worked as a Boy Scouts scoutmaster, Harvard research assistant and ski instructor, according to his resume reviewed by The Daily Beast.

The 48-year-old accused of shooting three Palestinian students in Vermont last week studied general studies at the University of Idaho in 2001 but did not graduate.

According to his resume, he also worked as a research assistant at Harvard Forest — run by Harvard University — in Massachusetts in 1999. Afterwards, he reportedly taught science to 5th and 6th graders at the McCall Outdoor Science School in Idaho.

In the past, he also led survival courses and acted as an assistant scoutmaster for a Boy Scouts of America unit in New York, according to his resume.

Jason Eaton harassment claims revealed

09:00 , Katie Hawkinson

New details about suspect Jason Eaton continue to emerge, including an ex-girlfriend’s claims that he was harassing her with sexual messages.

NBC News obtained police reports detailing the harassment allegations made by the then-36-year-old woman in 2019.

She told officers in DeWitt, New York, that Mr Eaton had sent her “numerous text messages, emails and phone calls,” after making it clear she did not want any contact with him, according to reports seen by NBC.

She said the messages were sexual in nature but not threatening.

The woman contacted police after allegedly seeing Mr Eaton outside her home. She had also had “several domestic disputes” with Mr Eaton, an officer wrote in their report per NBC.

She did not press any charges against Mr Eaton.

Injured student’s father thought his son would be safer in US than Israeli-occupied West Bank

07:00 , Katie Hawkinson

The father of Hisham Awartani — one of three Palestinian students shot and injured by a gunman in Vermont — didn’t want his son to come home for Christmas, believing the US would be safer than the West Bank.

“My husband didn’t want Hisham to come back for Christmas,” Mr Awartani’s mother Elizabeth Price told NPR. “He thought our son would be safer than in Palestine.”

Doctors fear Mr Awartani will never walk again after the gunman lodged a bullet in his spine in a possible hate crime over the weekend. As of Tuesday afternoon, Ms Price was traveling to the US from the West Bank to be with her son during his treatment.

Jason Eaton posted videos about government surveillance and ‘psychic powers’ online

05:00 , Katie Hawkinson

The online activity of Jason Eaton — the suspected gunman who shot three Palestinian students over the weekend — has come to light in recent days.

A YouTube account said to belong to the 48-year-old suspect also contains a wide array of videos, including those that discuss government surveillance, economics, and long COVID-19, NBC News reported.

Mr Eaton also posted a video called “Expose Fauci,” in which he tells viewers to use “brain crystals” for “psychic powers,” per NBC.

Mr Eaton is charged with three counts of attempted murder over Saturday’s shooting.

Injured student spoke out about the attack against him and two others

04:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Hisham Awartani, a junior at Brown University, released a statement on the attack against him and his two friends through Brown University’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

“It’s important to recognize that this is part of the larger story,” Mr Awartani wrote in a statement posted on the organization’s Instagram. “This hideous crime did not happen in a vacuum. As much as I appreciate and love every single one of you here today, I am but one casualty in this much wider conflict.”

Mr Awartani grew up in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. His mother, Elizabeth Price, told NPR her husband didn’t want their son coming home to Ramallah for Christmas because he believed Mr Awartani would be safer in the US than in Palestine.

“Had I been shot in the West Bank, where I grew up, the medical services that saved my life here would likely have been withheld by the Israeli army,” Mr Awartani wrote in the statement.

The gunman shot Mr Awartani in the spine during the 25 November attack. His mother told CNN doctors fear Mr Awartani may never walk again because of his injuries.

“I understand that the pain is so much more real and immediate because many of you know me, but any attack like this is horrific, be it here or in Palestine,” Mr Awartani wrote.

Suspect told arresting officer ‘I’ve been waiting for you’

03:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Jon Murad, chief of police for the Burlington Police Department, told reporters on Monday that suspected gunman Jason Eaton told an ATF officer he was waiting for them when they knocked on his door on Sunday.

“Agents were greeted by a man who stepped out of the hall out of the door towards them with his palms up at waist height,” Mr Murad said. “He stated something to the effect of: ‘I’ve been waiting for you.’”

Mr Murad then told officers he’d like a lawyer and that he had one gun in the apartment.

Officials say the 48-year-old suspect came to Vermont from Syracuse, New York over the summer.

Suspected gunman moved to Vermont just months before attack, police say

02:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Investigators believe suspected gunman Jason Eaton moved to Vermont over the summer, just months before the shooting of three Palestinian students last week, Burlington Chief of Police Jon Murad said on Monday.

Mr Murad said the suspect previously lived in or near Syracuse, New York.

Mr Eaton’s ex-girlfriend had previously called the police in DeWitt, New York — a town just a few miles outside of Syracuse — to report Mr Eaton had sent her “numerous text messages, emails and phone calls,” after making it clear she did not want any contact with him, according to reports reviewed by NBC News.

Burlington mayor addresses gun violence in Vermont in the wake of attack against three Palestinian students

01:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger told reporters Monday that Vermont must reckon with incidents of gun violence in the state after a gunman shot three Palestinian students walking to a Thanksgiving celebration last week.

“We must reckon with the reality that Vermont has one of if not the highest rate of gun deaths in New England,” Mr Weinberger said on Monday.

The mayor also called on residents to stand against hate in the wake of the attack.

“We must see the humanity in each other and unite as one community and one state that will not tolerate this hate,” Mr Weinberger said.

Federal officers are looking into whether the attack was a hate crime. The suspected gunman, Jason Eaton, faces three charges of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Injured Brown University student previously spoke at a vigil honoring those killed in Israel-Hamas conflict

00:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Hisham Awartani, a junior at Brown University in the ICU with a spinal injury following Saturday’s shooting, previously spoke at a vigil for those killed in the Israel-Hamas war.

The vigil was organized by Brown University’s Students for Justice in Palestine just days after the ongoing Israel-Hamas war began on 7 October.

“If Palestinians had to hold vigils every time our people were massacred, we would be bankrupt from buying candles,” Mr Awartani said at last month’s vigil, per the Brown Daily Herald. “There is no respite for us.”

The same organization posted a statement from Mr Awartani following the gunman’s attack last week.

“It’s important to recognize that this is part of the larger story,” Mr Awartani wrote in a statement posted on the organization’s Instagram. “This hideous crime did not happen in a vacuum. As much as I appreciate and love every single one of you here today, I am but one casualty in this much wider conflict.”

Hundreds in Burlington, Vermont rallied to honor the three students attacked by the gunman

Tuesday 28 November 2023 23:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Hundreds attended a rally in Burlington, Vermont on Sunday in support of the three Palestinian students shot by a random attacker over the weekend.

Local outlet Vermont Public spoke to several attendees, including Wafic Faour, a member of Vermonters for Justice in Palestine.

“Today, I received so many calls from my family members to ask me, ‘How am I? Is that possible? In Vermont?’ Yes, it is possible,” Faour told Vermont Public.

Vermont’s Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman also spoke at the rally.

“I just felt it was really important to be there in solidarity with the community that was feeling such trauma and grief,” Zuckerman told Vermont Public on Monday.

“This is a real awakening, or another awakening, for many Vermonters that, that we’re not free from hate here in our amazing little state,” he added.

Student with spinal injury immobilizing his legs is ‘very resilient’ and trying to keep spirits up, mother says

Tuesday 28 November 2023 22:00 , Katie Hawkinson

As 20-year-old Hisham Awartani rests in the Intensive Care Unit of a Vermont hospital, he’s trying to remain calm and keep everyone’s spirits up, his mother says.

“He’s just a very resilient young man and he’s been trying to keep everyone’s spirits up by joking and just trying to be as calm as possible,” Elizabeth Price told CNN. “We are determined to work with him and support him and get the best possible care.”

Mr Awartani has a bullet lodged in his spine and will likely remain in the ICU for at least a week, his mother previously said. He has lost mobility in his legs but can still feel them, according to Ms Price.

Now that the initial shock of Saturday’s attack has worn off, Mr Awartani is grappling with the larger implications of the attack on him and his two friends, Ms Price told NBC News.

“The short-term shock is now evolving into something more complex as he tries to frame who he is in the world and what it means to be safe in America, particularly when you get shot down the street from your granny’s house in a street he’s basically grown up on.”

Federal investigators are currently looking into whether the gunman can be charged with a hate crime.

Mother of student with spinal injury traveling to US from West Bank

Tuesday 28 November 2023 21:00 , Katie Hawkinson

Elizabeth Price, mother to Hisham Awartani, is traveling to the US from Ramallah, West Bank to be with her son.

Ms Price spoke to CNN while in Amman, Jordan on Tuesday morning on her way to Vermont. She said Jordan’s King Abdullah II had reached out to offer his support.

Mr Awartani is in the Intensive Care Unit of a Vermont hospital as of Tuesday afternoon while he receives treatment for a bullet lodged in his spine. Ms Price told CNN Mr Awartani also has a broken clavicle and broken thumb. Mr Awartani can feel but not move his legs — doctors fear he will never walk again, Ms Price previously said.

Students call on Brown University to divest from Israel during vigil for injured student

Tuesday 28 November 2023 18:52 , Katie Hawkinson

Students at Brown University staged a protest calling for the school to divest from Israel during a vigil in support of injured student Hisham Awartani.

Christina Paxson, the school’s president, spoke at the Monday evening vigil for 20-year-old student Hisham Awartani, who is receiving treatment in the ICU after the gunman struck him in the spine.

“Although we don’t know the details yet, it is horrific that the mere fact that Hisham and his friends were simply being who they are, proud Palestinians, wearing keffiyehs, speaking in Arabic, that may be what prompted the shooting,” she said at the vigil, according to The Providence Journal.

The three students targeted by the gunman were wearing keffiyehs, scarves typically checkered in black and white or red and white that symbolize Palestinian identity.

Several attendees shouted at Ms Paxson to divest from Israel and held signs carrying a similar message, the Journal reported.

“This is how you want to honor your friend? I’m sorry,” Ms Paxson told the crowd as she walked away from the podium, per the Journal. Students chanted “shame” as she left.

Ex-girlfriend of suspected gunman told police he harassed her

Tuesday 28 November 2023 18:07 , Katie Hawkinson

An ex-girlfriend of suspected gunman Jason Eaton told police four years ago he was harassing her with sexual messages, NBC News reports.

The then-36-year-old woman told police in DeWitt, New York on 21 October 2019 that Mr Eaton had sent her “numerous text messages, emails and phone calls,” after making it clear she did not want any contact with him, according to department reports obtained by NBC. She said the messages were sexual in nature but not threatening.

The woman contacted police after allegedly seeing Mr Eaton outside her home. She had also had “several domestic disputes” with Mr Eaton, an officer wrote in their report per NBC.

She did not press any charges against Mr Eaton.

One student discharged from hospital as other two remain in ICU: family member

Tuesday 28 November 2023 17:11 , Katie Hawkinson

Elizabeth Price, mother of Hisham Awartani, says one of the injured students has been discharged from the hospital while the other two remain in the Intensive Care Unit.

“One of [the students] who had a more superficial wound has been released from the hospital,” Ms Price told ABC News Monday evening. “Another one has a chest wound which I think is quite painful and he’s remaining in the ICU for the for the timebeing.”

Mr Awartani, whose injuries are the most severe, is expected to stay in the ICU for at least another week before he’s transferred to the spinal injury ward of the hospital, Ms Price told ABC News. The gunman struck Mr Awartani in his spine, and doctors fear he may never walk again, his mother previously said.

Mr Awartani is “tired but resolute” after the bullet lodged in his spine has left him unable to move his legs, Ms Price said.

Injured student speaks out about the attack

Tuesday 28 November 2023 16:36 , Katie Hawkinson

Hisham Awartani, a 20-year-old Palestinian student at Brown University, released a statement on the attack against him and his two friends through Brown University’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

“It’s important to recognize that this is part of the larger story,” Mr Awartani wrote in a statement posted on the organization’s Instagram. “This hideous crime did not happen in a vacuum. As much as I appreciate and love every single one of you here today, I am but one casualty in this much wider conflict.”

Mr Awartani grew up in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. His mother, Elizabeth Price, told NPR her husband didn’t want their son coming home to Ramallah for Christmas because he believed Mr Awartani would be safer in the US than in Palestine.

“Had I been shot in the West Bank, where I grew up, the medical services that saved my life here would likely have been withheld by the Israeli army,” Mr Awartani wrote in the statement.

“I understand that the pain is so much more real and immediate because many of you know me, but any attack like this is horrific, be it here or in Palestine,” Mr Awartani added.

The gunman struck Mr Awartani in the spine during the 25 November attack. His mother told CNN doctors fear Mr Awartani may never walk again because of his injuries.

WATCH: Suspect pleads not guilty in shooting of Palestinian college students

Tuesday 28 November 2023 15:40 , Rachel Sharp

Jason Eaton describes himself as a ‘radical citizen’ online

Tuesday 28 November 2023 15:20 , Rachel Sharp

The suspected gunman’s online history has come to light since the shooting, revealing that he describes himself as a “radical citizen”.

Jason Eaton is charged with three counts of attempted murder over Saturday’s shooting.

On an X account believed to belong to the 48-year-old, he calls himself a “radical citizen...pa-trolling demockracy and crapitalism for oathcreepers,” NBC News reported.

A YouTube account said to belong to the suspect also contains videos pushing theories about Dr Antony Fauci including one that reads: “Expose Fauci.”

Other videos, NBC News reported, are about using brain crystals for “psychic powers” and long Covid.

PICTURED: Jason Eaton seen in mug shot

Tuesday 28 November 2023 15:00 , Rachel Sharp

Jason Eaton (AP)
Jason Eaton (AP)

Palestinian student’s family said they thought he’d be safer in US than West Bank

Tuesday 28 November 2023 14:40 , Rachel Sharp

The family of one of the Palestinian students shot in a possible hate crime in Vermont has spoken out to say they believed he would be safer in the US than in the West Bank, where relatives live.

Hisham Awartani’s mother Elizabeth Price told NPR that the family had decided he should stay in the US for the holidays rather than return to Ramallah, due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“My husband didn’t want Hisham to come back for Christmas,” she said.

“He thought our son would be safer than in Palestine.”

On Saturday, Mr Awartani – a student at Brown University – was shot by suspected gunman Jason Eaton.

Vermont shooting suspect’s chilling words during arrest revealed

Tuesday 28 November 2023 14:20 , Rachel Sharp

The suspect in the Vermont shooting that wounded three students of Palestinian descent knew police officers were looking for him, officials told a press conference.

The Burlington Police Department is working with federal agents to investigate the 25 November shooting of Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali and Kenan Abdulhamid, three 20-year-old college students walking to a Thanksgiving celebration in Burlington, Vermont. The suspected gunman, 48-year-old Jason Eaton, is being held without bail on three charges of attempted murder. Mr Eaton pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

At a Monday press conference, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said officers identified Mr Eaton while canvasing at an apartment complex.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives knocked on an apartment door on Sunday. Mr Eaton emerged with his hands displayed and told officers he had been waiting, per Mr Murad.

Read the story here:

Vermont shooting suspect’s chilling words during arrest revealed

One of the students sustained a spinal injury in shooting, uncle says

Tuesday 28 November 2023 14:00 , Graeme Massie

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Rich Price, a Burlington resident and uncle of Hisham Awartani, said that the student sustained a spinal injury in the shooting and faces a long road to recovery.

All of the men are in the intensive care unit at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Tahseen Ahmad is in a lot of pain, Mr Price added, while Kinnan Abdalhamid’s injuries are difficult. Still, Mr Price said that Mr Abdalhamid is expected to make a full and speedy recovery.

“I want to say that these three young men are incredible,” Mr Price, who was hosting the students for Thanksgiving, said. “They have their lives in front of them. They are committed to building incredible lives. They each go to great schools.”

The men have visited the family for Thanksgiving in the last few years, Mr Price said, adding that he “never imagined that this sort of thing could happen”.

The incident occured after the men attended a birthday party for Mr Price’s 8-year-old twin boys. When they arrived back at the uncle’s home, they decided to go for a walk. That’s when police believe Mr Eaton encountered the men.

WATCH: FBI investigating Vermont shooting as possible hate crime

Tuesday 28 November 2023 13:40 , Rachel Sharp

New details revealed about suspect Jason Eaton’s resume

Tuesday 28 November 2023 13:20 , Rachel Sharp

New details are emerging about the suspect accused of shooting three Palestinian students near the University of Vermont campus in an attack that is being probed as a possible hate crime.

Jason Eaton’s resume, seen by The Daily Beast, reveals that he has worked as a former Boy Scouts scoutmaster, a Harvard research assistant and a former ski instructor.

The 48-year-old studied general studies at the University of Idaho in 2001, but fell short of graduating.

According to his resume, he also worked as a research assistant at Harvard Forest in Massachusetts in 1999.

After that, he reportedly taught science to 5th and 6th graders at the McCall Outdoor Science School in Idaho.

He has also ran survival courses in the past and acted as an assistant scoutmaster for a Boy Scouts of America unit in New York, his resume claims.

Families of students release joint statement calling for hate crime charges

Tuesday 28 November 2023 13:00 , Graeme Massie

The families of the students released a joint statement through the Institute for Middle East Understanding calling on authorities to continue investigating the incident with the aim of bringing hate crime charges against Jason Eaton, the suspect in the shooting.

The families referred to the attempted murder charges brought against the man “an important and welcomed first step towards bringing justice and accountability for our sons”.

The statement continued, “We welcome the decision by law enforcement and the Vermont Attorney General’s office to continue the investigation and pursuit of hate crimes charges.

“We believe a full investigation is likely to show our sons were targeted and violently attacked simply for being Palestinian. Full justice and accountability is important, and needed to ensure that this type of brutal and violent attack does not happen again.”

The statement went on to describe the men as friends from childhood. Each of the men are uniquely brilliant, kind, and talented, the statement said.

“We were so excited for them to attend prestigious universities in the United States, and believed that they would be safe here,” the families said. “Instead, they were viciously targeted in a brutal attack that plunged us as parents into our worst nightmares.”

Uncle of one of the men says he feels ‘somehow betrayed’ by decision to bring him to US

Tuesday 28 November 2023 12:00 , Graeme Massie

Radi Tamimi, the uncle of Kenan Abdulhamid said his family feels “somehow betrayed” by the decision to bring his nephew to the United States.

He said Mr Abdulhamid grew up in the West Bank, a territory east of Israel, home to roughly 3 million Palestinians.

“We always thought that that could be more of a risk in terms of his safety and sending him here would be the right decision,” he said during a news conference. “We feel somehow betrayed in that decision here.”

Mr Tamimi, who flew from California to Burlington ahead of the news conference stated that it’s “hard to imagine in this time, and with everything that's happening that it was just a random act.”

It “doesn't doesn't feel that way,” he said. “But we're absolutely willing to wait to find out let due process take its course.”

The FBI is investigating a potential hate crime motive

Tuesday 28 November 2023 09:20 , Graeme Massie

Federal law enforcement agencies are investigating whether the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Vermont was a hate crime.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland, in remarks from New York on Monday addressing the work of the US Department of Justice to combat hate-fuelled violence, confirmed the FBI and ATF have launched investigations in the wake of Saturday’s shooting.

“There is understandable fear in communities across the country,” Mr Garland said in remarks from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on Monday.

Read more from Alex Woodward here.

FBI investigating hate crime motive in shooting of Palestinian students in Vermont

Biden releases statement on shooting

Tuesday 28 November 2023 07:35 , Graeme Massie

President Joe Biden released a statement on the shooting Monday afternoon following a call he had with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Read the full statment below:

“Jill and I were horrified to learn that three college students of Palestinian descent, two of whom are American citizens, were shot Saturday in Burlington, Vermont. They were simply spending Thanksgiving gathered with family and loved ones,” the president said.

“We join Americans across the country in praying for their full recovery, and we send our deepest condolences to their families. While we are waiting for more facts, we know this: there is absolutely no place for violence or hate in America. Period. No person should worry about being shot at 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.Earlier today, I spoke to Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger to offer my support. We are grateful to the Burlington Police Department – as well as the FBI, ATF, and other law enforcement partners – for their swift work identifying and arresting a suspect. Our Administration will provide any additional federal resources needed to assist in the investigation.”

A gunman shot three Palestinian students in Vermont. Now they’re in the ICU as their families seek answers.

Tuesday 28 November 2023 06:04 , Graeme Massie

Last week, a gunman ambushed and injured three college students of Palestinian descent as they walked to a Thanksgiving dinner celebration in Burlington, Vermont.

John Murad, chief of the Burlington Police Department, called the attack an “unprovoked and terrible” crime at a 27 November press conference.

Now, the suspected gunman — 48-year-old Jason Eaton — is in custody and federal officials are investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime, as the three students receive treatment at a nearby hospital and their families seek answers.

Read more from Katie Hawkinson here.

Everything we know about the attack on three Palestinian students in Vermont

Jason Eaton could face life imprisonment if convicted

Tuesday 28 November 2023 05:10 , Graeme Massie

Sarah George, the Chittenden County State's Attorney, said that Jason Eaton could face 20 years to life imprisonment if convicted on three counts of second-degree attempted murder, a felony crime.

Mr Eaton was handed the charges when he was booked on Sunday. He plead not guilty to all three counts on Monday during a court arraignment.

Ms George said that officials do not currently have enough information to charge Mr Eaton with a hate crime.

However, “I do want to be clear that there is no question this was a hateful act,” she said.

“In the meantime, as our community grapples with this reality, my office will continue to work closely with the Burlington Police Department and our federal partners to hold Mr Eaton accountable, and any others who commit such horrendous violence in our home,” she said.

Ms George stated that in order to charge Mr Eaton with a hate crime, prosecutors would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt an additional element of the crime. Such evidence might come from anything that might’ve been said by the defendant at the time of the attack or statements made online prior to the incident.

Still, Ms George said that even if prosecutors did charge Mr Eaton with a hate crime, the possible punishment of 20 years to life would not change.

The Chittenden County Public Defender’s Office, which is representing Mr Eaton, said it was not prepared to comment on the case.

One of the students sustained a spinal injury in shooting, uncle says

Tuesday 28 November 2023 04:07 , Graeme Massie

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Rich Price, a Burlington resident and uncle of Hisham Awartani, said that the student sustained a spinal injury in the shooting and faces a long road to recovery.

All of the men are in the intensive care unit at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Tahseen Ahmad is in a lot of pain, Mr Price added, while Kinnan Abdalhamid’s injuries are difficult. Still, Mr Price said that Mr Abdalhamid is expected to make a full and speedy recovery.

“I want to say that these three young men are incredible,” Mr Price, who was hosting the students for Thanksgiving, said. “They have their lives in front of them. They are committed to building incredible lives. They each go to great schools.”

The men have visited the family for Thanksgiving in the last few years, Mr Price said, adding that he “never imagined that this sort of thing could happen”.

The incident occured after the men attended a birthday party for Mr Price’s 8-year-old twin boys. When they arrived back at the uncle’s home, they decided to go for a walk. That’s when police believe Mr Eaton encountered the men.

Suspect pleads not guilty during arraignment

Tuesday 28 November 2023 03:03 , Graeme Massie

Jason J Eaton, the man who officials believe shot the students, has pleaded not guilty to all three counts of aggravated assault, officials announced on Monday.

Investigators said that information inside Mr Eaton’s home led them to believe he was involved in the shooting. The man’s residence is located in front of where the attack took place, police said. He was arrested on Sunday.

Bernie Sanders releases statement on the shooting

Tuesday 28 November 2023 02:03 , Graeme Massie

Bernie Sanders, the independent US Senator from Vermont, released a statement regarding the shooting on X, also known as Twitter, on Sunday.

“It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, Vermont,” he said. “Hate has no place here, or anywhere.

“I look forward to a full investigation. My thoughts are with them and their families.”

Suspect told ATF officer ‘I’ve been waiting for you’

Tuesday 28 November 2023 01:04 , Graeme Massie

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Jon Murad, chief of police for the Burlington Police Department, said that the suspect, Jason Eaton, told an ATF officer something to the effect of “I’ve been waiting for you”, when they arrived to his apartment on Sunday during a canvas of the man’s residential building.

The ATF officer replied, “why is that?” Mr Murad said. To which he responded, “I would like a lawyer.”

Chief Murad said that before the man made the comment, he came out of his apartment with his palms up.

Officials then asked him if he had any firearms in his possession. He said he had one. At that point, Chief Murad said, the man was detained.

Authorities later found a .380 that Mr Eaton had recently purchased.

Officials believe the man came from Syracuse, New York and only had one traffic infranction ever since he moved to the area over the summer.

Here’s what we know about the victims

Tuesday 28 November 2023 00:01 , Graeme Massie

Three men of Palestinian descent were shot in Burlington, Vermont over the weekend as they walked to a family Thanksgiving dinner.

They’ve been identified as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmad, all 20. Two of the students are US citizens and one is a legal resident.

The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Officials have arrested a suspect, 48-year-old Jason J Eaton, in connection with the shooting.

According to a press release from the Burlington Police Department, the men remain under medical care. Two of them are stable, while one sustained serious injuries. Officials did not provide additional information about the students’ conditions.

The men are not related but had been headed to the home of Mr Awartani’s grandmother during the holiday weekend. They had been walking along Prospect Street on Saturday around 6.30pm when they were attacked by the gunman, who was on foot, the release states.

The man did not speak to the victims before he fired four shots in their direction. Two of the students were shot in the torso and one was shot in the lower extremities. The shooter fled the scene following the attack.

Mr Awartani is a student at Brown University in Rhode Island. Mr Abdalhamid attends Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Mr Ahmed is at Trinity College.

Haverford College president comments on shooting

Monday 27 November 2023 23:01 , Michelle Del Rey

Wendy Raymond, the president of Haverford College, released a statement regarding the shooting on Monday, announcing that the university would be taking measures to support students and staff following the incident, including implementing Islamic grief counseling, a candlelight vigil and additional psychological services.

Kinnan Abdalhamid, a junior at the university, was wounded in the shooting.

“This attack has the power to terrify because it shows how vulnerable we are, in so many ways,” Ms Raymond said. “Together, we will walk in and through it”.

In October, while speaking to the Haverford Clerk, the university’s student newspaper, Mr Abdalhamid, criticised the president’s response to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, stating that she did not mention the Palestinians killed by Israel in her early comments immediately after the fighting began that month.

“She did not mourn the Palestinian citizens who were killed, or the children who were killed by this ruthless bombing,” Mr Abdalhamid said.

The newspaper said the student had lived under Israeli military occupation from when he was three until he began studying at the university.

“I don’t expect much from Western media or the college to mention much about Israel’s oppression and apartheid,” said Mr Abdalhamid, “But I at least expect the thousands who were killed to be mentioned and mourned.”

Mother of student says ‘it’s unlikely he’ll be able to use his legs again'

Monday 27 November 2023 22:18 , Michelle Del Rey

Elizabeth Price, the mother of Hisham Awartani, 20, told NPR that doctors believe it’s unlikely that her son may be able to walk following the shooting.

“He’s confronting a life of disability, a potentially irreversible change to his life and what it means for his future,” she told the outlet.

Her son is currently attending Brown University, where he is studying mathematics and archaeology. He recently graduated from a Quaker-run K-12 school in the West Bank called Ramallah Friends School.

Ms Price, who lives in the West Bank with her husband, Marwan Awartani, said the couple is struggling to get out of the territory and into the US. They plan to cross by land into Jordan before taking a flight to the US, the outlet reported.

The students have been friends ever since childhood, she said.

“These are boys who grew up in my house, I consider all three of them my children,” Price says. “I am so glad I’m going to see them and care for them.”

The students were staying with the woman’s brother, Rich Price, at his home in Vermont for Thanksgiving.

The mother told the outlet that her and her husband decided to keep her son in Burlington over the holidays rather than have him travel back to the West Bank given the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“My husband didn’t want Hisham to come back for Christmas,” she told the outlet. “He thought our son would be safer [in the U.S.] than in Palestine.”

Now, she said, “My husband is so bitter”.

Mother of suspected shooter said he has history of mental illness

Monday 27 November 2023 20:30 , Michelle Del Rey

According to The Daily Beast, Mary Reed, the mother of Jason Eaton, the suspect in the shooting, said her son had previously struggled with depression and other mental health issues.

The family celebrated Thanksgiving just days prior to the incident, she said.

“It was the best Thanksgiving we had in years,” the woman told the outlet. “We were all together.”

Ms Reed described her son as a “kind and loving person”. Still, “Jason has had a lot of struggles in his life,” she said.

“I am just shocked by the whole thing.”

She said her son had not mentioned the war between Israel and Hamas during their recent interaction. She said he was “totally normal” during the meal and “in such a good mood”.

Ms Reed only learned of the shooting Monday morning, when her daughter came over to wake her up, she told the outlet.

“I just don’t understand,” she said. “I can’t believe he would do something like this.”

President Joe Biden has been briefed on shooting

Monday 27 November 2023 19:09 , Michelle Del Rey

During a briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden has been informed about the incident and is wishing the men a “full recovery”.

“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,” Ms Jean-Pierre said.

“The President continues to receive updates from his team about the ongoing investigation. 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 coninued.

“The President First Lady and everyone here at the White House, join Americans across the country in praying for their full recovery and we send our deepest condolences to their families and the broader Palestinian Arab and Muslim American communities.

“While we are waiting for more facts, we know this there is absolutely absolutely no place for violence or hate in America. 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.”

One shooting victim expected to be released from hospital today

Monday 27 November 2023 17:12 , Michelle Del Rey

One of the three Palestinian students shot in Burlington, Vermont on Saturday in a potential hate crime is expected to be released from the hospital, The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee announced in a statment posted to X, also known as Twitter on Monday.

Two of the students will stay in the hospital, the organisation said. One remains seriously injured, while another is critically injured. The organisation did not say which student is suffering from what injuries.

“ADC is working closely with the students and their families, including working tirelessly to ensure that they are reunited,” the organisation said. “We are calling on law enforcement in Vermont to additionally prosecute this shooting as a hate crime. ADC has reached out to the DOJ and the FBI to also call on an immediate hate crimes investigation.”

Officials to give update on shooting during press conference

Monday 27 November 2023 16:53 , Michelle Del Rey

Law enforcement officials are expected to provide an update on the shooting at 12pm on Monday during a press conference being held at Burlington City Hall.

Mayor Miro Weinberger, Chief of Police Jon Murad, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, and United States Attorney for the District of Vermont Nikolas Kerest are scheduled to attend, as are representatives of the victims’ families, and others, a press release distributed by the Burlington Police Department states.

The event is set to be livestreamed here.

US Attorney General Merrick B Garland says DOJ ‘poised’ to ‘assist’ in shooting investigation

Monday 27 November 2023 16:47 , Michelle Del Rey

Speaking at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, US Attorney General Merrick B Garland said FBI and ATF investigators are working to determine if the shooting was a hate crime.

“There is understandable fear in communities across the country,” Mr Garland said.

“Investigative updates by law enforcement officials in Vermont will be coming soon. The Justice Department is poised to provide any assistance that our state and local law enforcement partners need as we work together to protect our communities.”

Law enforcement officials in Vermont are set to hold a press conference at 12pm ET to give an update about the investigation into the shooting.

Here’s what we know about the shooting

Monday 27 November 2023 16:26 , Michelle Del Rey

Officials have not yet released a motive for the shooting of three Palestinian men who were attacked in Burlington, Vermont on Saturday.

According to a press release distributed by the Burlington Police Department, the men, Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmad, all 20, were walking along Prospect Street around 6.30pm on Saturday when a man fired four shots in their direction.

They had been heading to Mr Awartani’s grandmother’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. Two of the students were wearing keffiyehs, a traditional headdress from the Middle East, at the time of the assault, a release states.

According to the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, the men were speaking to each other in English and Arabic.

Two men were shot in the torso, while one was shot in the lower extremities, police said. Two of the men are in stable condition, while one suffered serious injuries, police said. Authorities did not provide further information regarding the students’ conditions.

Officials believe the shooter to be 48-year-old Jason Eaton.

Mr Eaton was arrested on Sunday around 3.38pm after he was located and detained by authorities. His residence is located in front of where the incident took place, officials said.

He’s currently being held at Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton. Officials have denied Mr Eaton bail. He’s facing three charges of second-degree attempted murder, to which he pleaded not guilty on Monday during an arraignment.

Jason J Eaton to face arraignment

Monday 27 November 2023 15:30 , Megan Sheets

Mr Eaton is expected to appear in court on Monday for his arraignment.

Police have yet to announce the specific charges he is facing following his arrest on Sunday afternoon.

The Independent will stream the arraignment live here.

Suspect arrested in Vermont shooting

Monday 27 November 2023 15:22 , Megan Sheets

Suspect Jason J Eaton, 48, was arrested on Sunday afternoon in connection with the shooting of three Palestinian students.

He is alleged to have ambushed the three University of Vermont students – Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmad – near campus in Burlington on Saturday night. The attack is being investigated as a hate crime.

The Burlington Police Department said in a press release that the suspected gunman lives in an apartment building near the scene of the shooting.

A search of his home uncovered evidence that gave law enforcement “probable cause” to believe Mr Eaton was behind the attack, police said.

It is not clear what charges the 48-year-old is facing but he is expected to appear in court for his arraignment on Monday.

The Independent’sRachel Sharp has more:

Suspect arrested in Vermont shooting of three Palestinian students