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Brown University holds vigil for Palestinian student Hisham Awartani wounded in Vermont shooting

Students at Brown University in Providence hold vigil for classmate shot in Vermont
Students at Brown University in Providence hold vigil for classmate shot in Vermont 02:37

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Dozens of Brown University students and supporters gathered on the Green at the Providence campus to support a Palestinian student who was shot over the weekend.

Hisham Awartani, a junior at Brown, and his friends, Tahseen Ali Ahmad and Kinnan Abdalhamid are in the ICU in Burlington, Vermont. Police say the three young men were out for a walk on Saturday evening in Burlington when they were shot.  

Jason Eaton, the man accused of shooting the three college students of Palestinian descent in Vermont, was ordered held without bail Monday, hours before the vigil was held. Eaton, 48, pleaded not guilty.

Awartani has a bullet in his spine, according to his uncle, Rich Price, but is expected to survive

Price told WBZ-TV all three of the 20-year-old men were shot while out for a walk. They were spending the Thanksgiving weekend with his family in Burlington. The three victims grew up together and graduated from Ramallah Friends School, a Quaker-run private nonprofit school in the West Bank.

Students shot in Burlington, Vermont
From left to right, Tahseen Ali Ahmad, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Hisham Awartani Ramallah Friends School   

Investigators said two of the men were wearing keffiyehs, scarfs that have come to symbolize Palestinian solidarity, when they were shot. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday the ATF and the FBI are looking into whether this was a hate crime.

"He faces a long road to recovery but his resilience and strength and even sense of humor in the face of really difficult times is an inspiration to all of us who are around him," Price said.

Awartani is a currently a junior at Brown University in Providence. Dozens of fellow students gathered at a vigil there at 4:30 p.m. Monday, a day after his classmates returned to campus from the holiday break.

"His only crime was being Palestinian, and that's why we're all here today," one student said, "I think what happened to our good friend Hisham in Vermont shows how unsafe we really are. Especially at a place so near to here and with a person so near to many of our hearts."  

"It was an initial shock because we got an email first before we got back to campus. I think it's just devastating," a junior at Brown told WBZ.

"We're all just kind of surprised honestly with how it happened so suddenly and everything. We're all here for him obviously supporting him in any way we can," another student said.  

Abdalhamid attends Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Tahseen Ahmad goes to Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Price has visited them and his nephew at the hospital.

"I heard them say to one another, 'We don't blame this guy. We just want to understand," Price told WBZ.

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