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Palestinian student in Vermont describes realizing he was shot: "An extreme spike of pain"

Palestinian student speaks about Vermont shooting
Palestinian college student speaks out about Vermont shooting which left him wounded 02:12

One of the three students of Palestinian descent who were shot in Burlington, Vermont, last weekend described the moment he realized he was wounded in an interview with CBS News. 

Kinnan Abdalhamid said that right after the shooting, he thought his friends might be dead and wanted to call 911 — then he experienced "an extreme spike of pain." 

"I put my hand where the pain was, and then I looked at it and it was soaked in blood," Abdalhamid told CBS News' Errol Barnett in an interview that aired Thursday evening. "I was like, 'holy s***, I was shot.'"

Abdalhamid, who is a student at Haverford College, was shot Saturday night along with his friends Tahseen Ahmad and Hisham Awartani while walking down a street. They were in Burlington visiting the home of a relative for Thanksgiving, police said, when an armed White man, without speaking, allegedly discharged at least four rounds. 

"We were speaking kind of like Arab-ish," Abdalhamid said. "So a mix of Arabic and English. He (the gunman), without hesitation, just went down the stairs, pulled out a firearm pistol, and started shooting."

Two of the victims were wearing keffiyehs, the black and white checkered scarf that has become a badge of Palestinian identity and solidarity.

Abdalhamid said he ran for his life after hearing the shots.

"First shot went, I believe, in Tashim's chest," Abdalhamid said. "And I heard the thud on the ground and him start screaming. And while I was running, I heard the second pistol shot hit Hisham, and I heard his thud on the ground."

Abdalhamid didn't immediately realize he had also been wounded. 

"Honestly it was so surreal that I couldn't really think, it was kind of like fight or flight," Abdalhamid said. "I didn't know I was shot until a minute later."

The 20-year-old managed to knock on the door of a neighbor, who called 911. Then, relying on his EMT training and knowing he needed help fast, Abdalhamid asked police to rush him to a hospital.

Once there, he asked about the conditions of his two wounded friends. One of them suffered a spinal injury and, as of Thursday, both are still recovering in the ICU.

"I was like, 'Are my friends alive…like, are they alive?'" Abdalhamid said he asked doctors. "And then, they were able to ask, and they told me, and that's when I was really a lot more relieved, and in a lot better mental state." 

Abdalhamid's mother, Tamara Tamimi, rushed from Jerusalem to Vermont after the shooting.

"Honestly, till now, I feel like there's nowhere safe for Palestinians," Tamimi told CBS News. "If he can't be safe here, where on Earth are we supposed to put him? Where are we supposed to be? Like, how am I supposed to protect him?"

Authorities arrested a suspect, Jason J. Eaton, 48, on Sunday, and are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime. Eaton pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder and was ordered held without bail.

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