The University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.
Denis Jr. Tangney | Getty Images
Three Palestinian students were shot and wounded near the University of Vermont on Saturday evening, police said.
Two of the three 20-year-old men are in stable condition, while the other faces more serious injuries, according to a Burlington, Vermont, police report.
The victims were on their way to a Thanksgiving dinner at a relative’s house and two of them were wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs, according to the report. The shooter fired at least four bullets from a pistol, hitting all three students. Officers from the Burlington Police Department, University of Vermont Police Department and other local law enforcement immediately responded to the scene.
All three attended a Quaker School together in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, in the West Bank. They are now students at Brown University, Haverford College and Trinity College in the United States.
The shooting comes as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism escalate amid the war between Israel and Hamas, which is currently under a four-day military pause to ensure the safe passage of released prisoners. hostages. Earlier in November, President Joe Biden announcement a “very first” national program to combat Islamophobia. Biden has been briefed on the shooting and continues to receive updates as law enforcement gathers more information.
The victims’ families called on police to treat the shooting as a hate crime in a joint statement: “Our children are dedicated students who deserve to be able to focus on their studies and build their futures.”
The Burlington Police Department said it is looking at all angles in its investigation, including the possibility it was a hate crime.
“In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident without suspecting that it may have been a hate crime. And I have already been in contact with federal investigative and prosecutorial partners to prepare myself for that if proven,” Burlington said. » Police Chief Jon Murad said in a statement.
Hate crimes are considered federal offenses. A spokesperson for FBI Albany, which covers Vermont, said in a statement following news of the shooting that the bureau was investigating the incident to see if there was evidence of a “federal violation.” .
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, offers a $10,000 reward for any reports or information that could help arrest and convict the shooter.
Sen. Bernie Sanders released a statement on the shooting in a social media post on Sunday.
“It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot and killed here in Burlington, Vermont. Hate has no place here or anywhere else. I look forward to a full investigation. My thoughts are with them and to their families,” the independent Vermont lawmaker said. said in a job on X, formerly Twitter.