AG Garland probing possible hate crime after shooting of 3 Palestinian men in Vermont

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday morning said that federal authorities are probing whether the shooting of three Palestinian students over the weekend in Vermont was a hate crime.

Garland shared the brief public remarks at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York City, where he met with other federal, state and local law enforcement leaders to discuss issues in their community, ranging from the fentanyl crisis to extremism in the U.S. that may be influenced by the Israel-Hamas war.

“There is understandable fear in communities across the country,” Garland said. “Even as we speak, the ATF and the FBI are investigating the tragic shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont. That investigation, including whether this is a hate crime, is ongoing.”

Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arrested as a suspect in that shooting on Sunday. On Monday morning, Eaton was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder. He was being held without bail.

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Two of the victims were wearing keffiyehs, traditional scarves worn by some in the Middle East. The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee said they were speaking Arabic when the shooting occurred. 

“No person and no community in this country should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence. Fulfilling that promise motivates us every day,” Garland said.

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Garland said investigative updates out of Vermont would be “coming soon.”

“While we are confronting this elevated global threat environment, we also know we cannot lose sight of many other challenges and includes working closely with our law enforcement partners to combat violent crime,” the attorney general said.

Fox News’ Lawrence Richard contributed to this report.

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