Three Palestinian college students were shot Saturday night in Vermont in a case police have yet to label a hate crime.
On Monday, 48-year-old Jason J. Eaton pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder and is being held without bail, CNN reported.
“Although we do not yet have evidence to support a hate crime enhancement, I do want to be clear that there is no question, this was a hateful act,” Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said Monday.
The victims are Brown University student Hisham Awartani, Haverford College student Kinnan Abdalhamid and Trinity College student Tahseen Ali Ahmad. The three 20-year-olds were wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh when shot. Two are U.S. citizens and the other a legal resident, police have said.
“They had just finished bowling when they went out for a stroll on a residential street near the University of Vermont and the UVM Medical Center,” NBC reported, adding the three friends “have known one another since their days at the Ramallah Friends School in the occupied West Bank.”
The police chief told CNN “one victim has a spinal injury with long-term implications, one was struck in the upper torso but has a good prognosis and the other was hit in the lower extremities and was close to being discharged.”
Reuters reported that police allege Eaton (pictured) “approached the three men right outside his apartment, drew his pistol and wordlessly opened fire from a few steps away, then vanished from the scene. Investigators said he fired four shots in all.”
IMAGE: Husam Zomlot / X and Burlington Police Department