Three Palestinian students were shot in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday while on their way to a family dinner, according to Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the U.K.
“Their crime? Wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh,” Zomlot wrote on his X account. “They are critically injured.”
“The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop. Palestinians everywhere need protection,” he wrote.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad confirmed the victims “were confronted by a white male with a handgun” who shot at least four rounds.
“Preliminary investigation has determined that all three were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday. The three were walking on Prospect Street when they were confronted by a white male with a handgun,” Murad said. “The suspect was on foot in the area. Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled on foot.”
The Ramallah Friends School later confirmed the three men were graduates of the school.
“Ramallah Friends School board, administration, staff, and community are deeply distressed by the recent incident involving three of our graduates,” the school wrote on Facebook.
The victims were wearing keffiyehs and speaking Arabic when a man harassed and shot them, according to the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee.
A keffiyeh is a traditional scarf worn by people in parts of the Middle East and become a symbol of Palestinian solidarity. The FBI said it was aware of the incident and had begun an investigation.
“We are aware of the incident in Burlington and are working with our state and local partners in Vermont,” a spokesperson for the FBI’s field office in Albany, New York, said. “If, in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the shooting “shocking and deeply upsetting.”
“It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, VT,” Sanders wrote on his X account. “Hate has no place here, or anywhere. I look forward to a full investigation. My thoughts are with them and their families.”