Three young men of Palestinian descent who were in Burlington for a Thanksgiving holiday gathering were shot and injured — one seriously — near the University of Vermont, police said Sunday. Authorities said the attack may have been a hate crime.
The shootings occurred at about 6:25 p.m. Saturday near the UVM campus, according to Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad. He said police are searching for the shooter.
Two of the men are in stable condition and the other suffered “much more serious injuries,” Murad said in a news release Sunday. The three, all age 20, were visiting the home of one of the victim’s relatives and were walking when they were confronted by a white man with a handgun.
“Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled,” Murad said in a news release. “All three victims were struck, two in their torsos and one in the lower extremities.”
Murad said all three men are of Palestinian descent. Two are U.S. citizens and one is a legal resident. Two of the men were wearing the black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves.
Murad said there is no additional information to suggest the suspect’s motive.
“My deepest condolences go out to the victims and their families,” Murad said in the news release. “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.”
He added, “The fact is that we don’t yet know as much as we want to right now. But I urge the public to avoid making conclusions based on statements from uninvolved parties who know even less.”
Before Murad issued his news release, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee released a statement Sunday saying that the victims were Palestinian American college students and that there is “reason to believe this shooting occurred because the victims are Arab.”
The ADC said a man shouted and harassed the victims, who were conversing in Arabic, then proceeded to shoot them.