Authorities have announced that the suspect involved in the shooting of three Palestinian-American students, all aged 20, in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday has been arrested and charged.
The suspect, identified as Jason Eaton, 48, was arrested on Sunday and has been charged with three second degree counts of attempted murder. Eaton has plead not guilty and is currently being held without bail.
The three students, identified as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, were out on a walk before a Thanksgiving dinner at Awartani’s grandmother’s house when they were allegedly approach by Eaton and shot at without warning.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad stated that Eaton “had not made any comments to them and had merely approached them while they were walking down the street, essentially minding their own business. And they were speaking in a mixture of English and Arabic… [Eaton] stepped off a porch and produced a firearm and began discharging that firearm.”
Attorney for the victim’s, Abed Ayoub, told CNN that he believes the men were targeted because they were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, alleging that “It was a targeted shooting and a targeted crime.”
State Attorney Sarah George said on Monday described the shooting as a “hateful act,” but added that “we do not yet have evidence to support a hate crime enhancement.” An exact motive has yet to be established.