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Suspect arrested in shooting of 3 Palestinian students in Vermont, U.S.

Updated 21:00, 27-Nov-2023

A suspect has been arrested in the shooting of three Palestinian college students in Burlington, Vermont, the Burlington Police Department said in a press release on Sunday.

A man with a pistol shot and wounded the three victims on the street near the University of Vermont on Saturday evening and ran away, Burlington police said earlier.

The suspect, identified as Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arrested on Sunday afternoon.

Two of the victims were in stable condition and the other suffered "much more serious injuries," Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a statement on Sunday. The three, all aged 20, were walking during a visit to the home of one of the victim's relatives when they were confronted by a white man with a handgun, police said.

Two of them were wearing the black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, Murad said.

The motive is unclear, but Murad suggested that "In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime."

The shooting came amid a rise in anti-Islamic and antisemitic incidents reported around the U.S. as Palestinian-Israeli conflict intensified since October 7. 

Last month, an Illinois landlord was charged with a hate crime after being accused of fatally stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy and seriously wounding his mother in Chicago. Police and relatives said he singled out the victims because of their faith.

In response to the shooting, U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries encouraged people to "unequivocally denounce the startling rise of anti-Arab hate and Islamophobia in America."

"No one should ever be targeted for their ethnicity or religious affiliation in our country," the New York Democrat said in the statement posted on X. "We will not let hatred win."

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, also denounced the shooting. "It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, VT. Hate has no place here, or anywhere. I look forward to a full investigation," Sanders said in a statement.

(With input from agencies)

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