On Sunday, Jason J. Eaton, who had appeared in court in Burlington, was apprehended in the vicinity of the gunshot location.
Kinnan Abdalhamid, Hisham Awartani, and Tahseen Ahmed were assaulted on Saturday in the vicinity of the University of Vermont.
When they were photographed, the men spoke Arabic, and two were adorned with keffiyeh, which are traditional scarves.
According to police, a white man brandished a firearm at the three twenty-something male visitors from the residence of one of their relatives during the Thanksgiving holiday. The altercation occurred outside the establishment.
Allegedly, he then fled after firing at least four cartridges at them without uttering a word.
According to police, two of the victims sustained thoracic wounds, while the third victim sustained lower extremity wounds. Two are in stable condition, whereas the third individual has suffered more severe injuries.
Since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on October 7, the United States has experienced an increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents, including violent assaults and online harassment. The attack coincides with this trend.
Alleged Hate Crime
Since the beginning of the conflict, the FBI has issued threats of “homegrown violent extremists” launching attacks.
The police have not identified a possible motive for the shooting.
Chief of Police of Burlington, Jon Murad, cautioned members of the public against hastening to conclusions “on the basis of statements from uninvolved parties who know even less” than the investigators.
“At this tense time, no one can examine this incident without suspecting that it might have been motivated by hatred,” he stated. “In advance preparations have been made with federal investigative and prosecutorial partners in the event that this is proven,” the speaker said.
Detention and Further Proceedings
The suspect was ordered to be detained without bail pending the outcome of a subsequent hearing on Monday, scheduled to occur within the following days.
According to investigators, Mr. Eaton resided in the apartment building directly across from the shooting scene on Prospect Street. He was purportedly apprehended on Sunday while federal agents searched the crime scene.
His residence was examined shortly after that. Police stated that additional evidence uncovered during this investigation and the evidence gathered under the search warrant provided investigators and prosecutors with probable cause to believe that Mr. Eaton was responsible for the shooting.
Mary Reed, the mother of Mr. Eaton, told The Daily Beast that her son was “in such a good mood” on Thursday during their Thanksgiving gathering despite having struggled with mental health and job security.
“Jason has had a lot of struggles in his life,” according to her. “I am just shocked by the whole thing.”
Haverford College in Pennsylvania has designated Mr. Abdalhamid as a student. Mr. Awartani is a physics student at Brown University in Rhode Island, while Mr. Ahmed attends Trinity College in Connecticut.
According to family members, they attended Ramallah Friends School, a Quaker-run private non-profit institution in Ramallah, together and were celebrating Thanksgiving with Mr. Awartani’s grandmother.
“These students are close friends from first grade and are exceptionally intelligent,” the school’s principal, Rania Maayeh, told CNN.
Mr. Awartani was struck in the vertebrae, and “we are praying that he will be able to walk,” she continued.
Rich Price, an uncle of one victim, said the three men were at an eight-year-old’s birthday celebration. He said we couldn’t imagine someone in our family neighborhood walking down the street and experiencing this.
“Within five minutes of their departure from our residence, we observed police cruisers patrolling the area while emitting flashing lights and sirens.” We then believed that something was indeed amiss.
He admitted to having “no idea that it was my nephew and his friends.”
Before this, the families of the victims started the Institute for Middle East Understanding, a pro-Palestinian non-profit organization.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations offered a reward of $10,000 (£7,900) for information leading to an arrest following the shooting.
The director of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Husam Zomlot, shared a photo of the three victims on social media with the caption, “Hate crimes against Palestinians must cease.”