NEW YORK, Nov 28, (Agencies): Jason J Eaton, who recently appeared in court in Burlington, was apprehended in the vicinity of the shooting incident that occurred on Sunday. The victims, Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, were attacked near the University of Vermont on Saturday. The three young men, aged 20, were conversing in Arabic, with two wearing keffiyehs, and traditional scarves when they were shot.
During their Thanksgiving visit to a relative’s home, a white man confronted them with a gun outside the property, firing at least four rounds without uttering a word before fleeing. Two victims sustained injuries to the torso, while the third was hit in the lower extremes. Two are in stable condition, while the third faces more severe injuries.
The incident transpired amidst a surge in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents in the US since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 7. While the FBI has issued warnings of potential attacks by “homegrown violent extremists,” police have yet to disclose a motive for the shooting.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad urged caution against premature conclusions, acknowledging the potential for a hate-motivated crime. At a Monday hearing, the suspect, Jason J Eaton, was ordered to be held without bail until a subsequent hearing in the coming days.
Mr. Eaton, residing near the shooting location, was arrested as Federal agents canvassed the area. A subsequent search of his home provided evidence implicating him in the shooting.
In court on Monday, Mr. Eaton’s mother, Mary Reed, revealed her son’s struggles with mental health and job security, expressing shock over the incident despite their positive Thanksgiving meeting.
The victims, two US citizens, and one legal resident, are students at prestigious universities. Mr. Abdalhamid attends Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Mr. Awartani is at Brown University in Rhode Island, and Mr. Ahmed studies at Trinity College in Connecticut. They attended the Ramallah Friends School together, a Quaker-run private non-profit school in Ramallah.
The families released a statement through the Institute for Middle East Understanding, urging law enforcement to thoroughly investigate the attack as a potential hate crime. The Council on American-Islamic Relations offered a $10,000 (£7,900) reward for information leading to an arrest. Ambassador Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, posted a photo of the victims on social media, demanding an end to hate crimes against Palestinians.
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