Who Are the Three Palestinian Students Who Were Shot in Vermont? What We Know So Far

Who Are the Three Palestinian Students Who Were Shot in Vermont? What We Know So Far

Three college students of Palestinian descent—two of whom are U.S. citizens and the other a legal resident, according to police—were shot and injured on Saturday night in Burlington, Vermont, while on their way to a Thanksgiving holiday dinner. 

All men aged 20, they remained hospitalized, as of Saturday evening, with two in “stable condition” while one sustained “much more serious injuries,” police said in a press release

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A statement from the Ramallah Friends School, a private Quaker school that teaches kindergarten through high school in the West Bank revealed the three victims to be graduates Kinnan Abdalhamid, Tahseen Ahmed, and Hisham Awartani.

The least seriously injured of the three was expected to be discharged on Sunday, Abed Ayoub, the national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee told the Washington Post, though he declined to specify which one he was referring to. Ayoub added that Awartani was the most critically injured.

The families of the victims as well as rights organizations have urged authorities to investigate the shooting as a hate crime. The gunman, identified as a white man, remains at large, police say.

“We recognize the suffering and heartbreak that the three men who were wounded, their families, and their communities are experiencing,” Nikolas P. Kerest, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont, said in a statement on Saturday. “We appreciate that our law enforcement partners are conducting the investigation into the identity of the shooter and the shooter’s motives in a careful and deliberate manner.”

Read More: The Israel-Hamas War Is Leading to an Uptick in Hate Crimes

Police added the students were shot in the front yard of a house belonging to one of their relatives after they’d returned from bowling. Two of them were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian headscarves, and were speaking in Arabic.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said in a statement on Sunday, “we have reason to believe this shooting occurred because the victims are Arab.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the shooting.

The three men were also identified in a joint statement by their families, which called on authorities to “conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime.” 

“We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice,” the statement said. “Our children are dedicated students who deserve to be able to focus on their studies and building their futures.”

Here’s what we know so far about the victims of the shooting.

Kinnan Abdalhamid, 20

Abdalhamid, a junior at Haverford College who was described as Illinois-born when he was quoted in the college’s student newspaper last month, reportedly sustained minor, non-life-threatening injuries. 

In a statement published by the Pennsylvania liberal arts college on Sunday, school authorities said they were in contact with Abdalhamid’s family, who live overseas. 

“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,” the statement said. “In the meantime, know that Haverford College condemns all acts of hatred.” 

“He is a really bright kid,” a friend of Abdalhamid told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The kind of kid who gets the homework done for the whole semester on the first week of class.”

The Inquirer said that Abdalhamid declined to give a statement when contacted via Instagram. Abdalhamid’s Instagram bio identifies himself as a registered EMT sprinter and includes a link to a pro-Palestinian advocacy and fundraising website.

Tahseen Ali Ahmad, 20

Ahmad, who was shot in the chest according to the Ramallah Friends School, studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. 

A school staff member visited Ahmad on Sunday morning, according to a statement from Trinity College. “Tahseen wants the Trinity community to know that he is in stable condition,” the statement said. “At this moment, please keep Tahseen and his friends in your heart.”

Hisham Awartani, 20

Awartani, who has been identified as Palestinian-Irish-American, is a junior at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Awartani’s great-uncle Marwan Awartani, a former education minister of the Palestinian Authority, told the New York Times that a bullet had struck Hisham’s spinal cord, and the 20-year-old lost feeling in the lower part of his body. He remained hospitalized as of Sunday evening.

A statement from Brown University President Christina Paxson to the university community on Sunday evening said that they were “very relieved and grateful to learn that he is expected to survive his injuries.” The school will be holding a vigil on Monday afternoon to “condemn anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian discrimination and acts of violence and hate, and express care and empathy for one another,” Paxson said. 

In October, Hisham had attended a vigil hosted by Brown Students for Justice in Palestine in response to the violence in Gaza, according to the student newspaper the Brown Daily Herald. “If Palestinians had to hold vigils every time our people were massacred, we would be bankrupt from buying candles,” he said during his speech at the event. “There is no respite for us.”

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