Vermont shooting suspect’s chilling words during arrest revealed

The suspect in the Vermont shooting that wounded three students of Palestinian descent knew police officers were looking for him, officials told a press conference.

The Burlington Police Department is working with federal agents to investigate the 25 November shooting of Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali and Kenan Abdulhamid, three 20-year-old college students walking to a Thanksgiving celebration in Burlington, Vermont. The suspected gunman, 48-year-old Jason Eaton, is being held without bail on three charges of attempted murder. Mr Eaton pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

At a Monday press conference, Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said officers identified Mr Eaton while canvasing at an apartment complex.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives knocked on an apartment door on Sunday. Mr Eaton emerged with his hands displayed and told officers he had been waiting, per Mr Murad.

“Agents were greeted by a man who stepped out of the hall out of the door towards them with his palms up at waist height,” Mr Murad told reporters. “He stated something to the effect of: ‘I’ve been waiting for you.’”

When ATF agents asked him why, he told them he wanted a lawyer. Mr Eaton also told officers he had a gun in his apartment, Mr Murad said.

“There was shakiness and a sense of of concern, but also something of a lack of an affect,” Mr Murad said of Mr Eaton during his arrest.

Mr Eaton is now facing three charges of aggravated murder in the second degree, which carry the potential for life sentences.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the ATF are investigating if the shooting was a hate crime.

“Even as we speak, the ATF and FBI are investigating the tragic shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont. That investigation, including whether this is a hate crime, is ongoing,” US Attorney General Merrick Garland said on 27 November.