3 college students visiting Burlington shot Saturday: What to know about the investigation

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Burlington police are investigating a shooting that sent three men to the hospital with gunshot wounds Saturday evening.

"The three young male victims, each of whom is 20 years old, remain under medical care," police said in a statement released Sunday afternoon. "Two are stable, while one has sustained much more serious injuries."

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Two of the men were struck in the torso, while the third was struck "in the lower extremities," police said.

Police said the victims have asked that their names not be shared.

The three victims are college students who were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to police.

The victims are of Palestinian descent and two of the men were wearing keffiyehs, a scarf worn in many Middle Eastern cultures, at the time of the assault.

Police said they have no additional information to suggest the suspect’s motive for the attack.

“My deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families,” Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a statement. “In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime. And I have already been in touch with federal investigatory and prosecutorial partners to prepare for that if it’s proven."

What police say happened on North Prospect Street

While walking on Prospect Street Saturday, the three men were "confronted by a white male with a handgun," police said.

"The suspect was on foot in the area. Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled on foot," police said.

In a statement issued Saturday evening, police said they received calls "that a person or persons had been shot in the vicinity of North Prospect Street in Burlington. Officers arrived to find two injured people at the location and a third injured person at a second location a short distance away."

Mayor Weinberger and Sen. Bernie Sanders react to potential hate crime

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger called the violence "unacceptable."

“That there is an indication this shooting could have been motivated by hate is chilling, and this possibility is being prioritized in the BPD’s investigation," Weinberger said in a statement. "The City of Burlington has zero tolerance for hate crimes and will work relentlessly to bring the shooter to justice.”

A member of Vermont's congressional delegation also weighed in.

"It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, VT. Hate has no place here, or anywhere. I look forward to a full investigation. My thoughts are with them and their families," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Gov. Phil Scott called the shooting a tragedy and offered his hopes for a full recovery for each of the victims.

“I urge Vermonters to unite to help the community heal, and not let this incident incite more hate or divisiveness," Scott said in a statement. "We must come together in these difficult times – it is the only way to put a stop to the violence we’re seeing.”

Reward offered for information

The shooting is garnering national attention with the Council on American-Islamic Relations offering a $10,000 reward for "information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators of a shooting Saturday targeting three Palestinian university students in Burlington, Vermont."

“Due to the unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate and violence we have witnessed in recent weeks, local, state and national law enforcement authorities must investigate a possible bias motive for the shooting of these three young men,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “We hope our reward will result in information leading to an arrest in this case.”

In a post on X, the American Jewish Committee urges law enforcement to "investigate this act as a possible hate crime."

"We are horrified by the shooting attack against three Palestinian college students in Burlington, VT," reads the AJC post. "We hope for a quick recovery for the victims and the swift apprehension of the perpetrator."

Burlington police ask anyone with information about this incident to contact the department at 802-658-2704.

Burlington Police statement

2023 1126 Burlington Triple Shooting Police Press Release by Aki Soga on Scribd

This story may be updated.

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Burlington VT shooting: 3 men injured in a potential hate crime