In a tragic incident that has gripped the community of Burlington, Hisham Awartani, a junior at Brown University, became a victim of gun violence mere steps from his grandmother’s residence, a place synonymous with his childhood. The incident, which has left Awartani’s family grappling with the harsh reality of safety concerns in America, unfolded on a street where he spent much of his youth.
Awartani’s father, initially opposed to his son’s return to the Middle East for the Christmas holidays, had arranged for him to stay with his wife’s family in Burlington. Elizabeth Price, Awartani’s mother, expressed her profound distress to NBC News, highlighting the psychological impact of the incident on her son and questioning the broader implications for their family’s sense of normalcy.
In a recent development, Jaston Eaton, 48, the suspect in the Burlington shooting that injured three Palestinian men, has entered a plea of not guilty to three counts of attempted murder in the second degree. Currently held without bail, Eaton awaits a forthcoming bail hearing, as announced by Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Rainville.
Further details emerged from an interaction between Eaton and an ATF agent investigating the shooting. Court documents reveal that upon being approached by the agent at his apartment, Eaton greeted the officer with a cryptic remark and disclosed the presence of a shotgun. However, he remained uncooperative regarding other potential firearms. It was later confirmed that Eaton had purchased a Ruger .380 caliber pistol in April.
The physical toll of the shooting is evident from court documents, which detail the injuries sustained by the victims. Awartani suffered a spinal injury, while Tahseen Aliahmad and Kinnan Abdalhamid were shot in the chest and glute, respectively.
In another development, the Burlington police released a booking photo of Eaton. The apprehension followed a search of his property, which yielded evidence supporting his involvement in the shooting. A review of Eaton’s social media profiles by NBC News revealed a diverse range of interests, including skepticism of Covid vaccines, government surveillance, and economic theories. His posts covered various topics from agriculture to mental health.
In Eaton’s home, authorities discovered a Ruger .380 pistol with a loaded magazine, along with additional ammunition, all found in his bedroom dresser, as stated in the affidavit of probable cause.
Addressing the media post-arraignment, Eaton’s attorneys, Margaret Jansch and Sarah Varty, expressed their hope for a swift recovery for the shooting victims, while maintaining professional discretion on specific details about their client, including his religious beliefs and potential motives. Regarding the possibility of the incident being prosecuted as a hate crime, Jansch deemed any speculation on the matter as premature.