BURLINGTON, VERMONT — A 20-year-old Palestinian college student, one of three shot on Saturday night, has been released from the hospital. The other two students, including one with a serious spinal injury, remain hospitalized.
The suspected shooter, 48-year-old Jason J. Eaton, has pleaded not guilty to attempted second-degree murder charges. The motive behind the shooting is still under investigation. The victims were identified as Hisham Awartani from Brown University, Kinnan Abdalhamid from Haverford College, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad from Trinity College.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad emphasized the importance of avoiding premature conclusions about the case. Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George noted that while there’s no evidence yet of a hate crime, the act was undoubtedly hateful.
The injuries sustained by the victims are significant. Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington remarked that their lives are forever altered, with one facing a particularly challenging recovery.
The students were visiting Hisham Awartani’s grandmother for Thanksgiving and were shot during a walk. Marwan Awartani, representing the families, stated the crime was hate-fueled and likely targeted the victims for being Palestinian.
At the crime scene, the suspect did not interact with the victims but shot them as they conversed in English and Arabic. Two victims were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, which some believe may have made them targets.
Eaton, recently relocated from Syracuse, New York, was detained by ATF agents. A search of his residence revealed a .380 pistol and ammunition. His only prior interaction with Burlington authorities was a 2016 traffic stop.