Vermont police have apprehended a suspect in connection with the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Burlington, where questions about increasing levels of hate crimes since the Israel-Hamas war have fueled national attention. Authorities confirmed the arrest of Jason J. Eaton, 48, near the site of the attack on Sunday. Eaton resides in an apartment complex facing the shooting location, and a search of his residence yielded compelling evidence incriminating him in the shooting incident. While law enforcement has not revealed specific charges, the police classified the case as three instances of aggravated assault. Eaton is set to be arraigned in court on Monday, and authorities plan to host a news conference to provide further details.
The shooting victims, all 20 years old, were gunned down while strolling on a street at night by an assailant who did not speak prior to opening fire and fleeing. Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ahmad were identified as the students who sustained injuries, with two in stable condition and one suffering more serious wounds. The families of the victims and civil rights groups have urged a thorough investigation into the possibility of a hate crime, particularly as two victims wore traditional Palestinian scarves.
The students, who are enrolled at various colleges in the US, were visiting Awartani’s grandmother in Burlington during the holiday, making their attack all the more alarming. The suspect resided near the location where the shooting occurred, and law enforcement agents detained Eaton and found additional evidence against him, leading to his arrest. The shooter’s motives remained under scrutiny, with rising concerns about anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias incidents in the country following the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Concerns for the students’ recovery and well-being, as well as the need for justice, have been voiced by their families and support organizations. Furthermore, Brown University and other educational institutions in the US have expressed distress over the recent violence, calling for increased awareness and vigilance amid rising fears of discrimination and hate. The investigation into the tragic incident is ongoing, and further details are anticipated as the story evolves.