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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Burlington, Vermont, shooting live updates: Three Palestinian college students shot on their way to dinner

Burlington, Vermont, shooting live updates: Three Palestinian college students shot on their way to dinner

"The shooter didn't say a word before firing at least four times, Burlington police said Sunday.

No indication of connection to school, University of Vermont says

The University of Vermont said in a statement today that “we have no indication” that the shooting is connected to the school, cautioning that the investigation continues.

"We are saddened by reports of a shooting at approximately 6:30 pm last night on Prospect Street in Burlington near UVM, injuring three out-of-state visitors," President Suresh Garimella and Provost Patty Prelock said in the statement. "Currently, we have no indication of a connection to the university community, but the investigation is at an early stage."

The three victims were in town to visit and were not students at the university. 

University police and campus safety teams are providing security in and around campus, "as is common in the wake of any significant safety incident," the university said.

"Our hearts go out to the victims and to all who are impacted by this incident. We encourage members of the UVM community to reach out for support as needed and we encourage you to support those around you," it said.

Trinity College says victim is stable

Trinity College, which one of the victims attends, said in a statement today that the community was "heartbroken."

Tahseen Ahmed, who was wounded in last night's shooting, is set to graduate from the university in 2026.

"A member of the Trinity Student Life staff went to Vermont early this morning to provide support and reports that Tahseen wants the Trinity community to know that he is in stable condition at an area hospital," President Joanne Berger-Sweeney and Joseph DiChristina, the vice president for student success and enrollment management, said in the statement.

"At this moment, please keep Tahseen and his friends in your heart."

Police presence near scene of shooting

Image: a scene from a Burlington, Va. shooting

Police tape and vehicles seen near the scene of the shooting in Burlington last night that wounded three Palestinian college students.

Gov. Phil Scott: Coming together is 'only way to put a stop to the violence we’re seeing'

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott called the shooting of three Palestinian students in Burlington last night "a tragedy."

“My thoughts are with them and their families," Scott said in a statement. "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 urged residents to "unite to help the community heal, and not let this incident incite more hate or divisiveness."

"We must come together in these difficult times — it is the only way to put a stop to the violence we’re seeing," he said.

Biden briefed on shooting of three Palestinian students

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the shooting of three Palestinian students in Burlington.

Biden will be updated as law enforcement gathers more information, the White House said.

CAIR offers $10,000 reward for info on the Burlington shooting

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering a $10,000 reward for information about the shooting in Burlington that wounded three Palestinian men.

The organization also called on state and federal law enforcement agencies in Vermont to investigate a possible bias motive for the shooting.

“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,” National Executive Director Nihad Awad said. “We hope our reward will result in information leading to an arrest in this case.”

Families of Burlington victims call for thorough investigation

In a joint statement they issued through the Institute for Middle East Understanding, the families said they "are devastated by the horrific news that our children were targeted and shot in Burlington, VT."

The families identified the victims as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmed. Awartani is a student at Brown University, Abdalhamid is a student at Haverford College, and Ahmed is a student at Trinity College.

"At this time, our primary concern is their full recovery and that they receive the critical medical support they need to survive," the statement read. "We are extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of our children."

The families said the victims are "dedicated students who deserve to be able to focus on their studies and building their futures."

"We call on law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime. We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice. We need to ensure that our children are protected, and this heinous crime is not repeated," the statement read. 

Victims were confronted by a white man with a handgun who shot 'without speaking,' Burlington police say

The Palestinian shooting victims "were confronted by a white male with a handgun" who shot at least four rounds "without speaking," Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said in a news release.

"Preliminary investigation has determined that all three were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday. The three were walking on Prospect Street when they were confronted by a white male with a handgun," Murad 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."

All three victims, whom police did not name out of respect for their own wishes, were struck — two in the torso and one in the "lower extremities" — police said.

Bernie Sanders says shooting of three Palestinian men in Vermont is 'shocking and deeply upsetting'

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called the shooting of three Palestinian men in Burlington "shocking and deeply upsetting."

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

Haverford College says Burlington shooting victims are Palestinian students

Haverford College, which one of the Burlington shooting victims attends, identified all three as Palestinian.

In a note shared with the college community, President Wendy Raymond and Dean John McKnight said they learned "early this morning that a member of our community, Haverford junior Kinnan Abdalhamid, is recovering from a gunshot wound in a hospital in Burlington, VT, after he and two of his lifelong friends were shot near the University of Vermont campus by an unknown assailant(s) Saturday evening."

FBI is aware of shooting incident in Burlington

The FBI said it is aware of the incident in Burlington where three Palestinian men were shot.

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

Burlington shooting victims were wearing keffiyehs and speaking Arabic when shot, advocacy organization says

The three shooting victims were wearing keffiyehs and speaking Arabic when a man harassed and shot them, according to the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee.

A keffiyeh is a traditional scarf worn by people in parts of the Middle East. it has become a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.

The ADC identified the victims as students, all 20 years old. They all survived, but two of them were in the intensive care unit and one "has sustained very critical and serious injuries," according to the ADC.

West Bank school says Burlington shooting victims are graduates 

The Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank identified the Burlington shooting victims as graduates from the school.

"Ramallah Friends School board, administration, staff and community are deeply distressed by the recent incident involving three of our graduates," the school wrote on Facebook.

According to the school, one was shot in the back and another was shot in the chest. NBC News has not independently confirmed this information.

"We stand united in hope and support for their well-being during this challenging time. Please hold our graduates and their families in the light," the school wrote.

Three Palestinian men shot in Vermont on their way to a family dinner, official says

Three Palestinian men were shot in Burlington, Vermont, last night while on their way to a family dinner, according to Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the U.K.

"Their crime? Wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh," Zomlot wrote on his X account. "They are critically injured."

Zomlot referenced the murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, who was fatally stabbed by his landlord about six weeks ago in Illinois.

"The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop. Palestinians everywhere need protection," he wrote."

Burlington, Vermont, shooting live updates: Three Palestinian college students shot on their way to dinner

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