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A Palestinian student shot in Vermont was told to stay in the US by his father who thought it was safer: report

Tahseen Ali Ahmad (left), Kinnan Abdalahmid, and Hisham Awartani (right)Tahseen Ali Ahmad (left), Kinnan Abdalahmid, and Hisham Awartani (right), three college students of Palestinian descent, were shot near the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont, on November 25, 2023.

Awartani family/Handout via Reuters

  • A Palestinian student was shot in Vermont after his father told him to stay in the US, per NPR.
  • His father said he thought he would be safer in the US than in the West Bank, his mother told NPR.
  • Hisham Awartani was celebrating Thanksgiving in Burlington when a man shot him, per local police.

A Palestinian student who was shot in Vermont was told by his father to stay in the US because he thought he would be safer, according to NPR.

Hisham Awartani, 20, was supposed to go home to the West Bank for Christmas, but the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas militants prompted his father to cancel the trip, according to his mother.

My husband “thought our son would be safer [in the US] than in Palestine,” Elizabeth Price told the outlet.

Awartani, a mathematics and archaeology student at Brown University, was one of the three Palestinian students shot on Saturday in Burlington, Vermont, as Business Insider previously reported.

Awartani was so badly injured that doctors said it would be “unlikely he’ll be able to use his legs again,” Price told NPR, adding that he is “confronting a life of disability, a potentially irreversible change to his life and what it means for his future.”

Authorities charged Jason James Eaton on Sunday in relation to the shooting, and the 48-year-old pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder in the second degree on Monday, according to a live feed of his appearance at Chittenden Criminal Courtroom.

The suspect shot at least four rounds from a pistol, which struck two of the victims in their torsos and another one in the lower extremities, per a press statement released by Burlington Police on Sunday.

The three victims, later identified as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, were celebrating Thanksgiving together. They were speaking Arabic and wearing keffiyehs — traditional Palestinian scarves — when a man “shouted” and “harassed” them before shooting them, per a statement released by the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee on Sunday.

While two of the victims remain in the ICU, one of them “sustained very critical and serious injuries,” the ADC statement said, without specifying who was seriously injured.

“After reviewing the initial information provided, we have reason to believe this shooting occurred because the victims are Arab,” the statement added. The ADC did not provide the reason.

Two former employers and coworkers of Eaton’s told Business Insider on Monday that the 48-year-old suspect had no racist views or interest in guns but that his recent social media posts show a turn toward extremism.

The Burlington Police Department, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the FBI, and members of the Chittenden County Gun Violence Task Force are investigating the shooting, Nikolas Kerest, US Attorney for the District of Vermont, said in a statement on Sunday.

The Burlington Police Chief said in a press conference that they found “ballistic” evidence at the scene, including shell casings from a 380 semiautomatic pistol and Hornady ammunition.

During the press conference, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said the triple attempted murder charges carry the potential for a life sentence.

FBI Albany did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI.

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