Three college students of Palestinian descent, all age 20, were shot in Vermont on Saturday, in what the attorney for the victims’ families is describing as “a targeted shooting and a targeted crime.”
“The suspect walked up to them and shot them. They weren’t robbed, they weren’t mugged,” attorney Abed Ayoub told CNN, noting that two of the three victims were wearing keffiyehs, traditional Palestinian scarves.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said Sunday that two of the men were in stable condition while the other suffered “much more serious injuries.”
On Sunday, authorities arrested Jason J. Eaton, 48, in connection with the shooting.
Burlington Police released a mugshot this morning of the suspect.
Prior to the release of the mugshot, online sleuths misidentified a different James Eaton, attempting to link the shooting to a former U.S. Army soldier.
Images of the Eaton who served do not appear to match those of the mugshot released.
Murad said no motive for the shooting has been identified but noted in a statement that “in this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime.”
“I have already been in touch with federal investigatory and prosecutorial partners to prepare for that if it’s proven,” he said, before urging “the public to avoid making conclusions based on statements from uninvolved parties who know even less.”
It appears that the Eaton arrested was not employed by the Army but rather worked in finance.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) records indicate that a man named Jason James Eaton was previously registered both as a broker and as an investment adviser in Vermont.
According to the FINRA records shared by X user Richard Seeger, Eaton’s most recent place of employment was at a financial services firm in Williston, Vermont—roughly a 15-minute drive away from Burlington. The website shows that he is no longer registered with the SEC as of Nov. 10.
Eaton’s mother—Mary Reed—told the Daily Beast her son bounced around different jobs and previously was an “assistant to a financial officer.”
Reed said she saw her son for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, where he was “in such a good mood.” She described him as a “very religious person” who previously struggled with depression and other mental health issues.
“Jason has had a lot of struggles in his life but he is such a kind and loving person,” Reed told the Daily Beast on Monday. “I am just shocked by the whole thing.”
Eaton is scheduled to be arraigned Monday, according to police.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the shooting “shocking and deeply upsetting” in a post on X Sunday.
“Hate has no place here, or anywhere,” Sanders said. “I look forward to a full investigation. My thoughts are with them and their families.”