The Burlington Police Department, in a press release, confirmed that two of the victims are in a stable condition, while the third has sustained more severe injuries.
The victims, all 20 years old and of Palestinian descent, were visiting a relative's home in Burlington for the Thanksgiving weekend. They were walking along a street when they were accosted by a white man armed with a handgun.
The assailant discharged at least four rounds without uttering a word and subsequently fled the scene on foot. Two of the victims were shot in their torso, and one was shot in the lower extremities, according to the police.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad, in a statement, expressed his deepest condolences to the victims and their families. He said, "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 echoed the sentiment, vowing to hold the shooter accountable. He stated, "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. 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.”
Haverford College confirmed that one of the victims, junior Kinnan Abdalhamid, is a student at the institution. In a message to students, Haverford College President Wendy Raymond and Dean John McKnight said, "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. In the meantime, know that Haverford College condemns all acts of hatred. We continue to work toward peace within our community and everywhere.”
The incident comes amidst a surge in Islamophobic incidents across the United States, following the recent conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides.
President Biden has been briefed on the incident and will continue to receive updates about the situation. The Albany FBI office, in a statement, confirmed its awareness of the incident and its readiness to investigate any potential federal violation.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also issued a statement on the shooting, expressing his shock and deep upset. He said, "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.”