President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden were both reportedly “horrified” about the shooting of three Palestinian college students on Sunday in Vermont.
“We join Americans across the country in praying for their full recovery, and we send our deepest condolences to their families,” Biden said in a statement. “While we are waiting for more facts, we know this: There is absolutely no place for violence or hate in America. Period. No person should worry about being shot at while going about their daily lives. And far too many Americans know a family member injured or killed as a result of gun violence. We cannot and we will not accept that.”
The students were shot by a white man while visiting one student’s family for Thanksgiving in Burlington.
Hisham Awartani and Kinnan Abdalhamid were both U.S. citizens, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad was a legal U.S. resident.
Late on Sunday night, police arrested Jason J. Eaton, 48, for the shooting.
He pleaded not guilty to three charges of attempted murder on Monday during a video appearance in court and is being held without bail.
Police are investigating whether the shooting was a hate crime.
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said it has reason “to believe that the shooting was motivated by the three victims being Arab.”
The three students are in the ICU and are expected to live. Awartani suffered a spinal injury which may be permanent, however.
Awartani’s uncle Rich Price said that it was a “tragic irony” that the shooting happened in America, given that he has a sister who lives in the occupied West Bank.
“My sister lives in the occupied West Bank, and people often ask me, ‘Aren’t you worried about your sister?’” Price said. “The reality is, as difficult as their life is, they are surrounded by an incredible sense of community. ‘Tragic irony’ is not even the right phrase, to have them come visit me on Thanksgiving and have something like this happen.”
The victims’ families said in a statement,
We call on law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime. We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice. We need to ensure that our children are protected, and this heinous crime is not repeated. No family should ever have to endure this pain and agony. Our children are dedicated students who deserve to be able to focus on their studies and building their futures.
While of course it is horrifying that Palestinians would be targeted because of their nationality, it is interesting that Biden was not similarly “horrified” about any of the anti-Semitic acts that have been occurring around the country.
The Anti-Defamation League reported that it saw an almost 400% increase in anti-Semitic incidents, including assaults and death threats aimed at Jews, after the attack on Israel by Hamas.