Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Suspect accused of shooting 3 Palestinian students in Vermont enters plea in first court appearance

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A suspect in the shooting of three Palestinian students near the University of Vermont over the weekend made his first court appearance during an arraignment Monday morning.

Jason J. Eaton, 48, appeared virtually in Chittenden County Superior Court and entered a not guilty plea to all three counts of attempted second-degree murder.

Eaton is currently being held without bail ahead of a bond hearing, which the judge said will be scheduled in the coming days.

The three college students – Hisham Awartani of Brown University, Kinnan Abdalhamid of Haverford College and Tahseen Ahmed of Trinity College – were shot and injured at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday while attending a Thanksgiving holiday gathering in Burlington, Vermont. 

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The students were visiting the home of one of the victim’s relatives and were walking to dinner when they were confronted by a White man with a handgun, according to police, who had said the gunman opened fire on the victims “without speaking.”

The shooting happened in front of Eaton’s apartment building, police said. Eaton was detained Sunday afternoon near the scene of the shooting.

The three victims, who are all 20 years old, remain hospitalized as of Monday morning. Two of the victims are U.S. citizens, while the third is a legal U.S. resident.

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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. 

The FBI in Albany, New York, posted a statement late Sunday on X saying the bureau is actively investigating the shooting with the Burlington Police Department, the ATF and other federal, state and local agencies.

Fox News’ Landon Mion and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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