The families of three Palestinian students shot on Saturday in Vermont, US, have asked authorities to examine the incident as a hate crime.

A guy challenged and shot Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid near the University of Vermont campus, according to Burlington police. Officers are looking into a probable motive, although the victims were wearing keffiyehs and spoke Arabic when they were attacked.

A suspect has been detained.

According to CBS News, the suspect has been identified as Jason J. Eaton, 48. Local police commander Jon Mura previously stated that two victims were in stable condition, while the third had far more critical injuries. According to family relatives, all three children attended Ramallah Friends School, a Quaker-run private non-profit school in Ramallah.

Mr. Abdalhamid was a student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Mr. Awartani, a Brown University student, and Mr. Ahmed, a Trinity College student in Connecticut, have been identified as the other two victims.

Rich Price, the uncle of one of the fatalities, said the three males, all in their twenties, were at an eight-year-old’s birthday party. “The last thing we imagined could happen in our family neighborhood was for them to walk down the street and have this happen to them.” “We saw the sirens and flashing lights of police cruisers go by our house less than five minutes after they left our house.” And we thought, “Wait a minute, something’s going on.” “I had no idea that it was my nephew and his friends.”

Earlier, the victims’ relatives issued a statement through the pro-Palestinian non-profit organization Middle East Understanding, according to Reuters. “We urge law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime,” they stated. “We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a $10,000 (£7,900) reward for information leading to an arrest following the shooting.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, the United States has seen an increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic occurrences, including physical attacks and internet abuse. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential contender, issued a statement condemning the recent violence. “It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, Vermont,” Mr. Sanders wrote on X. Hate is not welcome here or anywhere.”

The head of the Palestinian Mission in the United Kingdom, Ambassador Husam Zomlot, shared a photo of the trio on social media with the caption, “The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop.”

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