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Suspect in Vermont shooting of Palestinian students pleads not guilty

The three victims were on their way to a Thanksgiving gathering near the University of Vermont campus when they were shot.
Arrest made after 3 Palestinian students shot near Vermont university
Posted at 4:42 AM, Nov 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-27 15:49:52-05

The suspect arrested in the shooting of three University of Vermont students of Palestinian descent pleaded not guilty Monday morning.

Jason Eaton, 48, was taken into custody on charges of aggravated assault Sunday night after agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched his home for evidence.

The incident happened around 6:30 p.m. Friday in Burlington, Vermont, when the three Palestinian men were reportedly walking to a Thanksgiving gathering near campus at a home of one of their family members.

Investigators said two of the victims were wearing traditional Palestinian scarves when they were confronted by Eaton, who police said fired several rounds at them without saying a word.

The victims are being treated at the UVM Medical center; two are stable and one is said to have suffered more serious injuries.

The three victims, all 20 years old, are best friends. Two of them are U.S. citizens, and one is a legal resident, according to The Associated Press.

While a motive for the attack is still under investigation, authorities previously said it may have been a hate crime.

An attorney for the victims' families said that component needs to be considered.

On Monday, President Joe Biden said he would make federal resources available to aid in the shooting investigation.

"While we are waiting for more facts, we know this: there is absolutely no place for violence or hate in America. Period. No person should worry about being shot at while going about their daily lives. And far too many Americans know a family member injured or killed as a result of gun violence. We cannot and we will not accept that," President Biden said in a statement.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott also spoke out following the shooting. 

"I have offered the state's full support to the mayor and Burlington police chief as this senseless crime is investigated, and in support of the Palestinian and broader Burlington community," Scott said. "Our federal partners also stand ready to assist."

Police are expected to hold a press conference on Monday with more information.

An investigation remains ongoing. 

SEE MORE: Arab Muslim Stanford student hurt in suspected hate crime hit-and-run


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