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Mother says Hisham Awartani, student shot in Vermont, is now paralyzed

Brown University student shot in Vermont now paralyzed from chest down
Brown University student shot in Vermont now paralyzed from chest down 00:55

BURLINGTON, Vermont - The mother of a Palestinian college student who was shot in Vermont now says her son is paralyzed.

Elizabeth Price previously said her son, Brown University student Hisham Awartani, may not be able to move his legs for the rest of his life after the shooting left him with a bullet in his spine. Now she said he's partially paralyzed.

"Normal functioning is something that we have no idea if he will be able to regain that," said Price, who told WBZ TV she was "shocked" upon learning her son was shot while walking with two friends in Burlington over Thanksgiving weekend.

Price said her husband couldn't safely travel through Israel, forcing the family to find another way to get to the United States to be with Awartani from their home in the West Bank.

"We had to travel 16 hours before we could get on a plane from Jordan to Burlington," said Price. "We arrived and saw my son and then it was all worth it."

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

Awartani is expected to be released from the hospital next week. He will then be transferred to a rehab facility in Massachusetts.

"Hisham is tired but resolute," said Price.

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

"There's a hate crime in the eyes of the law and there's a hate crime in the eyes of the public," said Rich Price, Awartani's uncle. "Certainly in the eyes of the family, it's clear that these three young men were targeted because of how they looked, how they were dressed, what language they were speaking."

"Why is there such a sharp increase in Islamophobia, in anti-Arab sentiments and also anti-Semitic statements," said Elizabeth Price. "That kind of discrimination, that kind of hateful talk to any of the parties involved, as well as in general, in any type of community and minority, it's just totally unacceptable."

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