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Monday March 04, 2024

Vermont shooting: Keffiyeh-clad Palestinian students shot at Thanksgiving gathering

Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid were shot close to the University of Vermont campus in the US

By Web Desk
November 27, 2023
Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid. — US police
Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid. — US police

Three Palestinian students were shot on Saturday in the US state of Vermont as their families demanded the police to look into the incident which is possibly a hate crime.

A guy approached and shot Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, who were attending a Thanksgiving holiday gathering near the University of Vermont campus Saturday evening, according to Burlington police.

While they look into potential motives, police report that the victims were speaking Arabic and had on a traditional scarf or keffiyeh.

An individual suspected has been taken into custody.

The 48-year-old suspect has been identified by Burlington police as Jason J Eaton, according to CBS, the BBC's US media partner.

Two of the victims were reported to be in stable condition earlier by local police head Jon Mura, while the third victim had injuries that were far more severe.

According to family relatives, all three children attended Ramallah Friends School, a private non-profit school in Ramallah that is administered by Quakers.

Haverford College in Pennsylvania listed Abdalhamid as one of its pupils. The other two have been identified as Ahmed, a student at Trinity College in Connecticut, and Awartani, a student at Brown University.

One of the victims' uncles, Rich Price, stated that the three guys, who were all in their 20s, had been attending a birthday celebration for an eight-year-old.

"The last thing we can think of is that they may stroll down the street in our family neighbourhood and something would happen to them."

"Less than five minutes [after] them leaving our home, we saw the sirens and the flashing lights of police cruisers go by our house. And we thought, boy, something's going on."

"No idea that it was my nephew and his friends."

According to Reuters, the relatives of the victims had issued a statement via the non-profit group Middle East Understanding, which supports Palestine.

They said, "We call on law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime."

"We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice."

Following the incident, a $10,000 (£7,900) reward was extended by the Council on American-Islamic Relations for information that resulted in an arrest.

The event occurs at a time when the US is dealing with an increase in occurrences of Islamophobia and antisemitism, including physical attacks and cyberbullying, since the Israel-Hamas war started on October 7.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders made a statement denouncing the most recent acts of violence.

Writing on X, Sanders said: "It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, Vermont. Hate has no place here, or anywhere."

Ambassador Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, posted a photo of the trio on social media and added: "The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop."