Vermont man pleads not guilty to attempted murder of three Palestinian-Americans

By Parker Garlough

Jason J. Eaton, a 48-year-old man from Vermont, pleaded not guilty on Monday to the attempted murder of three Palestinian-American college students who were spending their Thanksgiving break in Burlington: Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad.

The students were shot outside of his apartment building, and a police affidavit stated that he had a shotgun in his apartment. When federal agents entered his apartment, he told them he had been waiting for them.

Eaton was arrested on Sunday, and made a videoconference court appearance from jail on Monday. He only spoke once—to identify himself—and his attorney pled not guilty on his behalf. He will be held without bail for the next few days until a hearing occurs.

The Justice Department is investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime, says Attorney General Merrick Garland. Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities have increasingly been the victims of attacks and threats over the past two months as Israel has increased its use of military force against Palestine.