WCAX-TV via Associated Press The suspect, identified as Jason Eaton, 48, was arrested Sunday evening in Burlington after a search of his home, near which the events had taken place the previous evening.
A forty-year-old was charged Monday in Vermont with attempted murder after shooting and wounding three students, possibly because of their Palestinian origin in a context of an increase in racist acts in the United States since the start of the war in Gaza. /p>
This attack sparked outrage, with President Joe Biden saying he was “horrified” in a White House statement.
Justice Minister Merrick Garland said “an investigation is underway, including whether this was a hate crime.”
The suspect, identified as Jason Eaton, 48, was arrested late Sunday after a search of his home, near where the incident took place the night before, Burlington police said.
He is suspected of having , in this Vermont town, fired four times with a .380 caliber handgun at the three students, aged 20, hitting all three.
“One of them suffered injuries whose aftereffects could follow him for the rest of his life,” Police Chief Jon Murad said at a press conference. The other two were described Sunday as being in “stable condition.”
The three students, who were spending the Thanksgiving holidays in Burlington, near the Canadian border, were walking down the street talking in English and Arabic when the suspect appeared in front of them, without speaking, and opened the fire before fleeing, Murad said. Two victims wore keffiyehs, the traditional Palestinian headscarf.
Two of them have American nationality and the third is a legal resident of the United States, according to authorities.
The suspect was kept in detention without the possibility of release on bail, according to the American press.
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“Although we do not yet have evidence to say that this is a crime motivated by hatred, it is very clear that we are dealing with a hateful act,” stressed local prosecutor Sarah George.
In the United States, a hate crime is an act against a person targeted because of certain characteristics of their identity such as ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability.
< p>In a joint statement, the victims' families said Monday that the investigation “will likely show that our sons were targeted and attacked just because they are Palestinian.”
According to them, “hateful rhetoric” conveyed “in the American media and even by some of the most important elected officials in the country” contributed to creating an “environment of increased racism and violence against Palestinians and Arabs”.
For Rich Price, uncle of a victim present at the press conference, this attack “shows the level of tension and hatred that exists in certain parts” of the country.
In the United States United, the war between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip is causing strong tensions and has given rise to an increase in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic acts.
At the beginning of October, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed near Chicago by a septuagenarian charged with a racist crime, an act directly linked to the war according to the police.
In California, a teacher is being prosecuted for manslaughter after the death of a Jewish man during a rally in early November which turned into an altercation between pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis.
“We have all seen an increase very clear in the number and frequency of threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities” since the start of the war, the Minister of Justice noted on Monday.
“There is an understandable fear in within these communities,” added Merrick Garland.
In this context, he assured that the Department of Justice “is closely monitoring what the impact of the conflict in the Middle East may generate among “terrorist and violent extremist organizations in the United States and abroad.”