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Man charged with shooting 3 Palestinian college students

30/11/2023 6:16
        The man charged with shooting three college students of Palestinian descent in Vermont last weekend was accused several years ago of harassing an ex-girlfriend in New York state, but no charges were ever filed, according to a police report.
        
        Jason J. Eaton's ex called police in Dewitt, New York, a town near Syracuse, in 2019 saying she had received numerous text messages, emails and phone calls that were sexual in nature but not threatening from Eaton, and wanted him to stop contacting her, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press. NBC News first reported on the complaint.
        
        The woman said Eaton had driven his pickup truck by her home that evening and a second time while she was talking to the police officer. She said she didn’t want to press charges against him but just wanted police to tell him to stop contacting her, the report states.
        
        Police pulled over Eaton’s vehicle and he told them that he was under the impression that the woman still wanted to see him, according to the report. The officer told Eaton that the woman wanted absolutely no contact with him and he said he understood, according to police.
        
        Eaton, 48, is currently being held without bail after his arrest Sunday in the city of Burlington on three counts of attempted murder. Authorities say he shot and seriously wounded Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad in Burlington on Saturday evening as they were walking near the University of Vermont. The students had been spending Thanksgiving break with one of the victims' relatives who lived nearby.
        
        Eaton had moved to Vermont this summer from the Syracuse, New York, area, according to Burlington police. He pleaded not guilty on Monday. Eaton’s name appeared in 37 Syracuse police reports from 2007 until 2021, but never as a suspect, said police spokesperson Lt. Matthew Malinowski. The cases ranged from domestic violence to larceny, and Eaton was listed as either a victim or the person filing the complaint in 21 of the reports, Malinowski said.
        
        Authorities are investigating Saturday's shooting to determine whether it constitutes a hate crime. The students were conversing in a mix of English and Arabic and two of them were also wearing black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves when they were shot, police said. One of the students has been released from the hospital, according to news reports, while one faces a long recovery because of a spinal injury.
        
        Eaton had recently lost his job. He worked for less than a year for California-based CUSO Financial and his employment ended on Nov. 8, said company spokesperson Jeff Eller.
        
        He legally purchased the gun used in the shooting, police said. On Sunday, Eaton came to the door of his apartment holding his hands up, and told the officers he’d been waiting for them. Federal agents found the gun in his apartment later that day.
        
        The shooting victims had been friends since first grade at Ramallah Friends School, a private school in the West Bank. Rania Ma’ayeh, who leads the school, called them "remarkable, distinguished students."
        
        Awartani is studying mathematics and archaeology at Brown University; Abdalhamid is a pre-med student at Haverford College in Pennsylvania; and Ali Ahmad is studying mathematics and IT at Trinity College in Connecticut. Awartani and Abdalhamid are U.S. citizens while Ali Ahmad is studying on a student visa, Ma’ayeh said.
        



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