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Palestinian American Victim Paralyzed From Chest Down

Late Thanksgiving night, three Palestinian American students were attending a holiday party when they were shot near the University of Vermont Campus. The three males; Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, had been approached that night by an older male, who opened fire without saying a word. Two of the victims were wearing black-and-white Palestinian keffiyehs, which are scarves that serve as a symbol for Palestinian solidarity and their demand for freedom. All three of the victims had been speaking a mixture of English and Arabic leading up to the incident. 


Elizabeth Price, Hisham Awartani’s mother, had told Hisham to remain in America for the holidays, rather than return home. All three of the victims involved in the shooting are expected to survive, but it is likely that Hisham will never walk again. After the incident, a bullet had been lodged in his spine, which caused him to remain paralyzed from the chest down. “He has what they call an incomplete spinal injury, which means that he can feel, but he can’t move the areas that are currently paralyzed,” said Elizabeth Price. 


The suspected shooter has now been identified as 48-year-old Jason Eaton, a former resident of Syracuse, New York. Following his arrest, Eaton had pleaded not guilty to all three counts of attempted murder. This attack can likely be considered a hate crime, but federal officials are still investigating and attempting to determine the motive. 


According to police statements, Jason Eaton had greeted an ATF agent who knocked on his door, and stated, with his hands outward “I’ve been waiting for you”. Inside Eaton's home, authorities found a handgun, shotgun, and .22 caliber rifle. The ammunition for his handgun had matched the casings found at the crime scene. 


One of the victims, Kinnan Abdalhamid, is now recovering from his injuries and has stated that he and his friends are more focused on the suffering in Gaza as they recover. “My friends and I are almost unable to focus on ourselves because of what’s happening back home,” Abdalhamid said. “It’s like experiencing this makes us even more connected to what’s happening.”


Authorities will continue to update the public as more information regarding the investigation is made available.


Edited By: Vicky Muzio

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Tags: #Palestine #hatecrime #Vermont


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