(ReliableNews.org) – The uptick in hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim people in America has alarmed authorities. An attack on three Palestinian students stunned a city in Vermont. Now, police have arrested a suspect in the case.
On Saturday, November 25, three college students were walking near the University of Vermont in Burlington when they were attacked. Tahseen Ahmed, Hisham Awartani, and Kinnan Abdalhamid were reportedly speaking English and Arabic. Two of them were wearing traditional Palestinian headdresses and kaffiyehs. Suddenly, a man shot at the students four times. Family members told The New York Times that Ahmed was shot in the chest and Abdalhamid suffered minor injuries.
Awartani’s great-uncle, Marwan Awartani, said one of the bullets hit his nephew’s spinal cord. He’s expected to survive but has allegedly lost feeling in the lower part of his body. He’s a student at Brown University. Ahmed goes to Trinity College in Connecticut, and Abdalhamid is a student at Pennsylvania’s Haverford College.
Police identified the suspect as 48-year-old Jason J. Eaton. He lived in the apartment building that the students were shot in front of.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger called it “chilling” to think the students might have been attacked because they are Arabic. However, the police have said they don’t know what motivated the alleged shooter. Law enforcement searched Eaton’s apartment but refused to give any further information. Police Chief Jon Murad warned people against jumping to conclusions without all of the evidence.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who lives in Burlington and once served as its mayor, called the crime “deeply upsetting” and said, “Hate has no place here or anywhere.” Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) condemned “hate and Islamophobia,” saying it wasn’t “reflective of [their] Vermont values” and called for the end of “fear, intimidation, and violence.”
US Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest said the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will be working with his office and investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime.
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