A 48-year-old man, Jason J Eaton, has been arrested in connection with the shooting of three US students of Palestinian descent in Vermont and is set to appear in court on Monday. Eaton was taken into custody after evidence linking him to the crime was found during a search of his home. The victims, Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, were shot near the University of Vermont in Burlington on Saturday. Authorities are investigating whether the incident qualifies as a hate crime, given that the victims were wearing keffiyeh and speaking Arabic when the attack occurred.
The US attorney in Vermont has stated that the office will collaborate with the Justice Department’s civil rights division to determine if a federal crime has occurred. Although all three victims survived, one sustained serious injuries. The attack took place during a surge in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents in the US, coinciding with the Israel-Hamas conflict. The three victims, who attended Ramallah Friends School together, were visiting a relative when the shooting occurred.
Jason Eaton was detained on Sunday after a search of his residence provided probable cause for his involvement. The families of the victims have called for a thorough investigation, urging law enforcement to treat it as a hate crime. The FBI, cautioning against potential attacks by “homegrown violent extremists,” is actively involved in the case. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has offered a reward for information leading to an arrest, and Ambassador Husam Zomlot has called for an end to hate crimes against Palestinians. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders condemned the violence, emphasizing that hate has no place in Burlington.