Home » Vermont Shooting: Victim Jumped Fence to Escape Attack After He Was Hit

Vermont Shooting: Victim Jumped Fence to Escape Attack After He Was Hit

A Palestinian-American who was shot in Vermont told police he jumped a fence after he was hit and fled into a nearby house where he begged for help.

Kinnan Abdalhamid, 20, was attacked as he walked down a street in Burlington on Saturday with his friends Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Aliahmad.

A suspect, Jason J Eaton, 48, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

Police have not identified a possible motive, but are investigating whether a hate crime was committed.

“We still do not know as much as we want to know,” Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said on Monday, before urging the public not to jump to conclusions.

The attack comes as the US deals with a surge in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents, including violent assaults and online harassment, since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 7 October.

According to court documents, the men, who are all aged 20 and of Palestinian descent, were speaking in a mix of English and Arabic when they were attacked at around 18:30 (23:30 GMT).

Two of them were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves. They were visiting the home of one of their relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday and were returning from a birthday party at the time of the shooting.

A man, whom they did not know, stared at them as they passed and stumbled down his porch towards them with a handgun, Mr Abdalhamid told police.

He then shot at them at close range without saying a word and fled on foot.

According to police interviews with Mr Abdalhamid, he jumped a fence to escape the shooting after he had been shot and sheltered for two minutes behind a house.

He then knocked on a nearby front door, but when no-one answered, ran through a back garden and begged a woman in another house to call for help.

It was only after he sat down there that he realised he had been shot, feeling pain and noticing some blood on his right glute.

Police discovered Mr Abdalhamid’s friends lying on the pavement where they had been shot. They were treated at the scene.

All three are recovering from their injuries in an intensive care unit at hospital. Mr Awartani suffered the most severe injuries after he was shot in the spine and faces a long road to recovery, relatives said.

On Sunday, the day after the shooting, federal agents detained Mr Eaton as they were canvassing in the area. He lives in an apartment building opposite the site of the shooting, according to police.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” the suspect told the agents at his door, according to court documents, before twice asking for a lawyer and revealing he had a weapon inside.

Chief Murad said the suspect was shaking and appeared “very nervous”, but had “very little reaction” as arresting officers told him he was being charged with attempted murder.

Authorities then searched his home and discovered a pistol, which is being examined by investigators.

The suspect, who appeared in court via video link on Monday and pleaded not guilty, is being held without bail. If convicted on the three felony counts against him he faces life in prison.

“Although we do not yet have evidence to support a hate crime enhancement, I do want to be clear that there is no question, this was a hateful act,” State Attorney Sarah George said at the news conference on Monday.

“Anybody who steps out from a porch and attacks three random passers-by for any reason is expressing some form of hate,” Chief Murad said.

Rich Price, Mr Awartani’s uncle, said the shooting took place after the trio had left a birthday party for his eight-year-old twin boys.

“I’m blown away by their resilience, their good humour in the face of these difficult times,” he said.

Radi Tamimi, Mr Abdalhamid’s uncle, said his nephew had grown up in the occupied West Bank.

“We always thought that could be more of a risk in terms of his safety and sending him here would be the right decision. We feel somehow betrayed in that decision,” he said.

Source : BBC