Officials investigate potential hate crime as 3 Palestinian college students shot in Vermont, suspect on the loose
Civil rights organisations and the victims’ families are now urging authorities to investigate a possible bias by the attacker
As many as three Palestinian college students were reportedly shot in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday evening, November 25. Civil rights organisations and the victims’ families are now urging authorities to investigate a possible bias by the attacker.
A statement by the family, released by the Institute for Middle East Understanding, identified the students as Hisham Awartani, a student at Brown University in Rhode Island; Kinnan Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Tahseen Ahmad, a student at Trinity College in Connecticut.
The men, all of them 20, are under medical care, a release from the Burlington Police Department said. The students were attacked while they were walking on Prospect Street while visiting a relative for Thanksgiving holiday. The release said that “they were confronted by a white man with a handgun.” “Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled on foot,” police said. While two of the students are US citizens, one is a legal resident.
Two of the students were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves, the police department said. While two were shot in the torso, one was shot in the “lower extremities.” The victims were taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center.
According to authorities, “there is no additional information to suggest the suspect’s motive.” The police also said that ballistic evidence from the shooting collected by detectives is set to be submitted to a federal database. On Sunday, November 26, the FBI said it was “prepared to investigate” the incident.
The suspect(s) is yet to be identified, and the police department is “at the earliest stages of investigating this crime,” according to Police Chief Jon Murad, CNN reported.
The victims’ family told law enforcement in a joint statement, “We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice. No family should ever have to endure this pain and agony. Our children are dedicated students who deserve to be able to focus on their studies and building their futures.”