The man accused of fatally shooting three Palestinian students in Burlington, Vermont, over the weekend pleaded not guilty Monday to attempted murder charges and was ordered held without bail by a judge. Jason J. Eaton, 48, was charged in Chittenden County Criminal Court in Burlington. He appeared in court via video link from the county jail, where he has been held since his arrest on Sunday, the day after the attack.
Investigators are treating Saturday night’s gun violence in the heart of Vermont’s largest city as a suspected hate crime, police said. According to an indictment filed in court, two of the three men shot to death said they were wearing black and white Palestinian-style keffiyeh scarves, and one was wearing English when confronted by the gunman. He stated that he was speaking in a mixture of Arabic.
The three friends, identified in court documents as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Aliamad and Kinan Abdalhamid, all 20 years old, were still receiving treatment Monday for gunshot wounds to their spines, chests and hips. The authorities have announced that they are receiving. According to police affidavits filed in support of the charges, the victims told police that after spending the afternoon at a bowling alley, they drove toward the University of Vermont, about a block from Awartani’s grandmother’s house. He said he was shot while walking.
All three attend college in other cities, but they were staying with Awarthani and his relatives in Burlington over the Thanksgiving holiday. Police said Eaton walked directly up to the three men in front of the apartment, pulled out a handgun and fired silently from several steps away, then disappeared from the scene. Investigators say the man fired a total of four shots.
‘I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU’
The shooting sparked an intensive manhunt by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Army. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Eaton was taken into custody the next day after an ATF officer knocked on a door while patrolling the neighborhood and was greeted by a suspect who held out his hands, palms up, and told the officer, “I’m waiting for you.” Stated. The police affidavit states: A subsequent search of the apartment revealed a handgun, ammunition matching the cartridges found at the scene, a .22-caliber rifle and two shotguns, police said.
He is charged with three counts of attempted second-degree murder, a felony punishable by 20 years in prison if convicted. “While we do not yet have evidence to support an increase in hate crimes, we want to be clear that there is no question that this was a hateful act,” Chittenden County Prosecutor Sarah Fair George said Monday. said at a press conference. The shooting comes amid a spate of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Semitic incidents and threats in the United States since the bloody conflict erupted between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7. . “At this tense moment, I don’t think anyone can look at this incident and not question whether this was a crime motivated by hate,” Burlington Police Chief John Murad said in a statement Sunday. During the three-minute arraignment, Eaton, wearing an orange jumpsuit, responded, “Yes, sir,” when the judge asked if he understood the allegations against him. Police said the suspect legally purchased the gun used in the shooting several months ago. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice is assisting local authorities with their investigation. “No person or community in this country should live in fear of deadly violence,” Garland said before a separate meeting at the department’s offices in the Southern District of New York. The White House said President Joe Biden was appalled by the shooting. “There is no place for violence or hatred in America,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. According to the victims’ families, Awarthani is a student at Brown University in Rhode Island, Abdalhamid is enrolled at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and Aliammad attends Trinity College in Connecticut. Police said all three are of Palestinian descent, two of whom are U.S. citizens and three of whom are legal residents of the United States. Their families said they were graduates of Ramallah Friends School, a private Quaker secondary school in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta. Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Luc Cohen, Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu, and Katharine Jackson. Additional reporting and writing by his Steve Gorman in Los Angeles. Editing: Frank McGarty, Bill Berkrot, Matthew Lewis
Source : www.reuters.com