3 Palestinian men shot in Vermont

3 Palestinian men shot in Vermont
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Three Palestinian men were shot and injured near the University of Vermont on Saturday in what authorities suspect could be a hate-related crime.

The Burlington Police Department (BPD) said in a press release that two of the three victims are in stable condition while the third sustained “much more serious injuries.” The three men, who are each 20 years old and of Palestinian descent, were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving weekend and were walking along a street when they were confronted by a white man with a handgun.

Police said the man discharged at least four rounds without saying anything and fled on foot. Two of the victims were shot in their torso and one was shot in the lower extremities, police said.

Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad suggested that it could be a hate-related crime.

“My deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families,” 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.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger also vowed to hold the shooter accountable in a statement.

“Violence of any kind against any person in our community is totally unacceptable and we will do everything in our power to find the perpetrator and hold them fully accountable,” Weinberger said in a statement. “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. The City of Burlington has zero tolerance for hate crimes and will work relentlessly to bring the shooter to justice.”

In a message to students, Haverford College said that junior Kinnan Abdalhamid was one of the three suffering from a gunshot wound as a result of the shooting.

“Kinnan and his friends are all Palestinian students studying at U.S. colleges and universities. Police are investigating the shootings, and we await word on whether it will be pursued as a hate crime,” Haverford College President Wendy Raymond and Dean John McKnight said in the message. “In the meantime, know that Haverford College condemns all acts of hatred. We continue to work toward peace within our community and everywhere.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced Sunday that the organization will be offering a $10,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetuator of the shooting. The organization is also calling on state and federal law enforcement agencies to investigate whether there was a possible bias motive for the shooting.

Islamophobic incidents across the United States have spiked since the outbreak of the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas last month, which has left thousands dead on both sides of the conflict.

President Biden has been briefed on the incident and will continue to receive updates about the situation. The Albany FBI office said in a statement that it was aware of the incident.

“We are aware of the incident in Burlington and are working with our state and local partners in Vermont,” Albany FBI spokesperson Sarah Ruane said. ”If, in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also issued a statement on the shooting.

“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,” Sanders said.

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