A suspect was arrested Sunday for the shooting of three Palestinian-American college students in Burlington, Vermont, according to the Burlington Police Department. The shooting occurred Saturday evening, and the victims include Brown undergraduate Hisham Awartani ’25, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad.
The suspect, Jason Eaton, lives in a building near the scene of the shooting. Authorities searched Eaton’s home, finding “probable cause to believe that Mr. Eaton perpetrated the shooting,” CNN reported.
Eaton, 48, was arrested by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives at 3:38 p.m., according to the police statement. Evidence in Eaton's apartment "gave investigators and prosecutors probable cause to believe that Mr. Eaton perpetrated the shooting."
Eaton appeared in court Monday morning. He is being held without bail and pled not guilty to three charges of attempted murder.
The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee wrote that the students were speaking Arabic. Two were wearing keffiyeh while walking to a relative’s home for dinner when the incident occurred, police said.
Burlington police said Sunday that the perpetrator was a white male, and did not speak before opening fire on the three victims. The FBI has launched an investigation into whether the incident was a hate crime, NBC reported.
"The second-degree murder charges the suspect faces are an important and welcomed first step towards bringing justice and accountability for our sons," the families of the three victims said in a statement.
At a Monday press conference, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said Eaton legally acquired a firearm a few months ago in Vermont. According to Mayor Miro Weinberger, Eaton moved to Vermont from Syracuse during the summer.
Awartani, who was shot in his spine, is stable but immobilized, CNN reported. Abdalhamid and Ali Ahmad are both in stable condition as well.
At the press conference, Weinberger said Awartani was the most seriously injured of the three victims.
Last updated 6:45 p.m.
Neil Mehta is the editor-in-chief and president of the Brown Daily Herald's 134th editorial board. They study public health and statistics at Brown. Outside the office, you can find Neil baking and playing Tetris.