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3 Palestinian college students shot on their way to dinner

The Palestinian shooting victims “were confronted by a white male with a handgun” who shot at least four rounds “without speaking.”
/ Source: NBC News

Three Palestinian men were shot in Burlington, Vermont, last night while on their way to a family dinner, according to Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the U.K.

The Palestinian shooting victims “were confronted by a white male with a handgun” who shot at least four rounds “without speaking,” Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a news release.

“Preliminary investigation has determined that all three were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday. The three were walking on Prospect Street when they were confronted by a white male with a handgun,” Murad said. “The suspect was on foot in the area. Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled on foot.”

All three victims, whom police did not name out of respect for their own wishes, were struck — two in the torso and one in the “lower extremities” — police said.

Police confirmed that all three victims are Palestinian and that two of them are U.S. citizens, while the other is a legal resident.

“Two were wearing keffiyehs at the time of the assault. At this time, there is no additional information to suggest the suspect’s motive, such as statements or remarks by the suspect,” police said.

Detectives recovered ballistic evidence that will be submitted to a federal database, and they are canvassing neighborhoods and interviewing witnesses.

Murad expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.

“In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime,” Murad said in a statement. “And I have already been in touch with federal investigatory and prosecutorial partners to prepare for that if it’s proven.”

Murad said that now that the victims are safe and getting medical care, the priority is finding the shooter.

“The fact is that we don’t yet know as much as we want to right now. But I urge the public to avoid making conclusions based on statements from uninvolved parties who know even less,” he said.

The FBI said it is aware of the incident in Burlington, according to a statement released by the field office in Albany, New York on Sunday, Nov. 26.

“We are aware of the incident in Burlington and are working with our state and local partners in Vermont,” a spokesperson said. “If, in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”

The Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank identified the Burlington shooting victims as graduates of the school.

“Ramallah Friends School board, administration, staff and community are deeply distressed by the recent incident involving three of our graduates,” the school wrote on Facebook.

“We stand united in hope and support for their well-being during this challenging time. Please hold our graduates and their families in the light,” the school wrote.

Haverford College, which one of the Burlington shooting victims attends, identified all three as Palestinian.

In a note shared with the college community, President Wendy Raymond and Dean John McKnight said they learned “early this morning that a member of our community, Haverford junior Kinnan Abdalhamid, is recovering from a gunshot wound in a hospital in Burlington, VT, after he and two of his lifelong friends were shot near the University of Vermont campus by an unknown assailant(s) Saturday evening.”

The college in Haverford, Pennsylvania, is in touch with Abdalhamid’s family, who live overseas, and McKnight will be traveling to Burlington on Sunday.

Trinity College, which one of the victims attends, said in a statement Sunday that the community was “heartbroken.” Tahseen Ahmed, who was wounded in last night’s shooting, is set to graduate from the university in 2026.

“A member of the Trinity Student Life staff went to Vermont early this morning to provide support and reports that Tahseen wants the Trinity community to know that he is in stable condition at an area hospital,” President Joanne Berger-Sweeney and Joseph DiChristina, the vice president for student success and enrollment management, said in the statement.

“At this moment, please keep Tahseen and his friends in your heart.”

In a statement Sunday, Brown University President Christina H. Paxson said victim Hisham Awartani, a junior at the institution, remains hospitalized and is expected to survive.

In the statement addressed to the Brown community, Paxson said family allowed her to share that Awartani is Palestinian Irish American.

“There are not enough words to express the deep anguish I feel for Hisham, his parents and family members, and his friends,” Paxson said. “I know that this heinous and despicable act of violence — this latest evidence of anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian discrimination and hate spiraling across this country and around the world — will leave many in our community deeply shaken.”

She indicated care and support was available on campus for those in need. She also urged community members to “express care and empathy for one another.” 

The University of Vermont said in a statement today that “we have no indication” that the shooting is connected to the school, cautioning that the investigation continues.

“We are saddened by reports of a shooting at approximately 6:30 pm last night on Prospect Street in Burlington near UVM, injuring three out-of-state visitors,” President Suresh Garimella and Provost Patty Prelock said in the statement. “Currently, we have no indication of a connection to the university community, but the investigation is at an early stage.”

The three victims were in town to visit and were not students at the university.

University police and campus safety teams are providing security in and around campus, “as is common in the wake of any significant safety incident,” the university said.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and to all who are impacted by this incident. We encourage members of the UVM community to reach out for support as needed and we encourage you to support those around you,” it said.

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