The mother of one of the three Palestinian American college students shot in an attack in Burlington, Vt., over the weekend said in an interview that she has “no doubt” the incident was a targeted hate crime.
Tamara Tamimi, the mother of Kinnan Abdalhamid, told NBC News on Thursday that her son and his friends, Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, had been out in the neighborhood just days before the incident occurred.
“Kinan started to think recently that perhaps the man had seen them before,” Tamimi told the news outlet. “He’s like, ‘It just doesn’t make any sense the way that he reacted.’ … It was a split second. But he looked at them, and then did a double take. And then he pulled out his pistol without any thought — without any words.”
“There is no doubt,” she added. “It just defies logic. Why else would it be? … If they were not wearing the keffiyah. … If they were not speaking Arabic.”
Abdalhamid, along with Ahmad and Awartani, were shot after a man approached them with a handgun and fired at least four rounds as they were walking in Burlington last Saturday, according to the Burlington Police Department.
The three victims, all 20 years old and of Palestinian descent, were in town visiting one of the victims’ families for the Thanksgiving holiday and were on their way back from bowling when the incident occurred.
Authorities said that the three men were wearing keffiyehs, a traditional headdress worn by Palestinian people, at the time of the shooting.
Police then arrested Jason Eaton a day after the incident following a search of the area. Eaton, 48, pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted second-degree murder on Monday and is currently being held without bond ahead of his next court appearance.
The incident stems from the ongoing tension seen on college campuses from Israel’s war with Hamas, which began after the militant group’s surprise attack on October 7.
Tamimi, who said her son is out of the hospital and is physically doing well but is struggling emotionally, added that she’ll be disappointed if the incident was not treated as a hate crime.
“It would be sorely disappointing only because the facts are so obvious,” she told NBC News.
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