Three Palestinian college students were shot while walking home from dinner Saturday night in Vermont – in what the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee alleges is a hate crime.

The victims of the Burlington, Vermont shooting have been identified as Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdel Hamid and Tahseen Ahmed, all three are 20 years old.

According to the Burlington Police Department, the men were wearing keffiyeh scarves and speaking Arabic when the suspect approached them.


‘Preliminary investigation has determined that all three were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday,’ said Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad.

‘The three were walking on Prospect Street when they were confronted by a white male with a handgun. 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.’

When officers arrived on the scene, they found three people with gunshot wounds. Murad said two victims were in one location were treated at the scene by the Burlington Fire Department before being taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center. The third victim was found a short distance away and taken to the hospital.

‘Two were wearing keffiyehs at the time of the assault. At this time, there is no additional information to suggest the suspect’s motive, such as statements or remarks by the suspect,’ authorities said.

However, Murad 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.’

Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee National Director Abed A. Ayoub said: ‘We are praying for a full recovery of the victims, and will support the families in any way that is needed. Given the information collected and provided, it is clear that the hate was a motivating factor in this shooting.

‘We call on law enforcement to investigate it as such. The surge in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment we are experiencing is unprecedented, and this is another example of that hate turning violent.’

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.