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Thursday February 29, 2024

Palestinian student injured in hate-motivated shooting breaks silence

"It was kind of like fight or flight," Kinnan Abdalhamid says during an interview with CBS News

By Web Desk
December 01, 2023
Kinnan Abdalhamid. — ABC News/Institute for Middle East Understanding
Kinnan Abdalhamid. — ABC News/Institute for Middle East Understanding

One of the three Palestinian students, who was shot in Burlington, Vermont, recently broke his silence over last weekend's incident revealing the moment he realised he was injured.

In an interview with CBS News that aired on Thursday, Kinnan Abdalhamid said that right after the shooting, he thought his friends might be dead and wanted to call 911 — then he experienced "an extreme spike of pain."

"I put my hand where the pain was, and then I looked at it and it was soaked in blood," Abdalhamid said. "I was like, 'holy s***, I was shot.'"

Abdalhamid, a Haverford College student, was shot on Saturday night while strolling along a street with his pals Tahseen Ahmad and Hisham Awartani. 

According to authorities, they were in Burlington for Thanksgiving, visiting a relative's house when an armed white male allegedly fired at least four bullets without saying anything.

"We were speaking kind of like Arab-ish," Abdalhamid said. "So a mix of Arabic and English. He (the gunman), without hesitation, just went down the stairs, pulled out a firearm pistol, and started shooting."

Two of the victims were wearing keffiyehs, the black and white checkered scarf that has become a badge of Palestinian identity and solidarity, CBS News reported.

Abdalhamid said he ran for his life after hearing the shots.

"First shot went, I believe, in Tahseen's chest," Abdalhamid said. "And I heard the thud on the ground and him screaming. And while I was running, I heard the second pistol shot hit Hisham, and I heard his thud on the ground."

Abdalhamid didn't immediately realise he had also been wounded.

"Honestly it was so surreal that I couldn't really think, it was kind of like fight or flight," Abdalhamid said. "I didn't know I was shot until a minute later."

The 20-year-old managed to knock on a neighbour's door, and the neighbour then dialled 911. Then, Abdalhamid begged authorities to take him to the hospital immediately, relying on his training as an EMT and knowing he required assistance quickly.

When he arrived, he inquired about his two injured companions' conditions. As of Thursday, one of them had suffered spinal damage, and the other was still in the intensive care unit getting better.

"I was like, 'Are my friends alive…like, are they alive?'" Abdalhamid said he asked doctors. "And then, they were able to ask, and they told me, and that's when I was really a lot more relieved, and in a lot better mental state."

Tamara Tamimi, Abdalhamid's mother, rushed from Jerusalem to Vermont after the shooting.

"Honestly, till now, I feel like there's nowhere safe for Palestinians," Tamimi said. "If he can't be safe here, where on Earth are we supposed to put him? Where are we supposed to be? Like, how am I supposed to protect him?"

A 48-year-old man, Jason J Eaton, was taken into custody by the authorities on Sunday and they are looking into the shooting as a potential hate crime. Eaton was placed in custody without bail after entering a not-guilty plea to three counts of attempted murder.