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HomeNewsSuspected shooter of three Palestinian students in Vermont denies charges

Suspected shooter of three Palestinian students in Vermont denies charges

Jason J. Eaton, 48, the man accused of shooting three Palestinian college students in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday night, entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment on Monday.

Eaton was arrested on Sunday afternoon near the site of the shooting, according to the Burlington Police Department. He was ordered to be detained without bail by the judge at Monday’s hearing.

The shooting has drawn national scrutiny as hate crimes have surged in the wake of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict.

Police said Eaton resides in an apartment building across the street from where the shooting occurred and that a search of his home revealed evidence that led investigators to “probable cause to believe that Mr. Eaton committed the shooting.”

Eaton was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, a police statement said. Police are scheduled to hold a press conference at noon Monday to provide more details about the case.

The shooting is also being probed by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont and other agencies to determine if it was a hate crime, officials said.

The victims, who are all 20 years old, were walking on the sidewalk when a man armed with a handgun approached them and fired at each of them “without uttering a word” before running away, the police department said.

Two of the students were in stable condition as of Sunday but the third sustained “much more serious injuries,” police said, adding that two were shot in the torso and one in the lower limbs.

The students who were shot are 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, the Institute for Middle East Understanding said, sharing statements from the victims’ families.

Two of the students’ family members are expected to travel to the US this week, a family representative said.

The families of the victims and several civil rights organizations have called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate whether the shooting was driven by hate, as the incident coincided with a reported increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab incidents in the US following the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas last month.

Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a previous news release that the shooting raised suspicions of being a hate-motivated crime “in this charged moment.”

Abed Ayoub, a lawyer for the victims’ families, said he thinks the students were singled out, partly because two of them were wearing keffiyehs – traditional Palestinian scarves.

“He walked up to them and shot them. They were not robbed, they were not mugged,” Ayoub said on “CNN Newsroom” on Sunday before the arrest was made. “It was a deliberate shooting and a deliberate crime.”


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