One of three Palestinian college students wounded in a shooting in Vermont spoke to CNN on Wednesday about the terrifying moment when a gunman opened fire.
Kinnan Abdalhamid told the outlet that the gunman began shooting at him and his two friends “without saying a word.”
Abdalhamid was on a walk with his two friends ― Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Ali Ahmad ― on Saturday when four shots rang out.
“On the way back, we see this man on his porch essentially looking away from us,” Abdalhamid told CNN. “He turns around, looks at us, and without saying a word — it was almost surreal — he went down the steps, pulled out a pistol and shot my friend.”
Abdalhamid added, “A split second later he shot my other friend, and I hear this thud on the ground.”
Moments later, Abdalhamid realized that he himself had also been shot.
“That’s when I noticed a sharp pain,” he told CNN. “So, I put my hand behind my back, and that’s when I realize my hand was soaked in blood.”
Jason Eaton, 48, was arrested in connection with the shooting. Though a motive has not yet been made clear, the incident comes amid an apparent wave of Islamophobia in the U.S. following the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Police said the three college students were speaking both English and Arabic, and two of the students were wearing traditional black and white Palestinian scarves, or kaffiyehs.
Abdalhamid told CNN that he and his friends believe they were shot because they were speaking Arabic.
“We all agreed essentially in one second, probably because we spoke Arabic,” he said of a possible motive. “Nothing else in our heads makes sense as to why he would do this.”
Eaton has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder. On a social media page, Eaton reportedly described himself as a “radical citizen ... [patrolling] demockracy and crapitalism for oathcreepers.”