Three Palestinian college students in Burlington, Vermont, were shot on Saturday evening, leading to calls from civil rights organizations and the victims’ families for an investigation into potential bias by the attacker. The victims, aged 20, are currently receiving medical care; two are stable, while one sustained more serious injuries. The students, who were wearing traditional Palestinian scarves called keffiyehs, were confronted by a white man with a handgun. The assailant discharged at least four rounds without speaking and is believed to have fled on foot.
Two victims are US citizens, and one is a legal resident. While the motive remains unclear, the families and civil rights groups are urging law enforcement to investigate the incident as a hate crime. The FBI has expressed readiness to investigate, and authorities recovered ballistic evidence from the scene. The shooter or shooters have not been identified or apprehended, and the investigation is in its early stages.
The victims, identified as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ahmad, were visiting Burlington for Thanksgiving. The families stress the importance of justice and condemn the targeted nature of the crime. US Senator Bernie Sanders expressed shock and called for a full investigation, while Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Husam Zomlot, decried hate crimes against Palestinians.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Council on American-Islamic Relations are actively involved, with the latter offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators. This incident adds to concerns about rising hate crimes in the US, particularly impacting Arab communities.