The New York Post reported that the students, who were enrolled at Harvard, Brown University, and Trinity University, were targeted while on their way to a family dinner in Burlington, a vibrant city in Vermont.
The Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) identified the victims as Hiham Awartani, Tahseen Ali, and Kenan Abdulhamid. The trio had congregated to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday break. However, the specifics of the incident remain unclear.
According to local news outlet WCAX, the assailant was on foot in the vicinity when he allegedly fired at least four rounds from his pistol without uttering a word. At the time of the assault, two of the victims were wearing keffiyehs, a traditional Middle Eastern headdress, as stated by Chief Murad.
Following the incident, the victims were rushed to the University of Vermont Medical Center. The ADC reported that two of the victims were in intensive care, with one in a particularly critical condition.
On Sunday, Burlington police apprehended Jason Eaton, 48, in the vicinity of the shooting. Eaton resided in a building close to the site of the incident.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and the Burlington Police Chief held a press conference on Monday afternoon following Eaton's court arraignment. Mayor Weinberger described the incident as an "unprovoked attack" that has left the community in shock. He also mentioned his ongoing dialogue with Muslim leaders about how Burlington can support their communities.
Eaton has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and pleaded not guilty earlier today.
Newsweek reported that Eaton was detained near the shooting site around midday on Sunday. Following a search of his apartment, which is located in front of the shooting site, he was arrested on Sunday evening. Eaton is expected to be arraigned on Monday.
The victims were identified by their families in a post from the Institute for Middle East Understanding on X, formerly known as Twitter. The statement expressed deep concern for the safety and well-being of their children and called for a thorough investigation, including treating the incident as a hate crime. The families will not rest until justice is served.