The families of three Palestinian students shot in Vermont on Saturday have urged police to investigate the attack as a hate crime.
Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed and Kinnan Abdalhamid were confronted and shot by a man near University of Vermont Campus, Burlington Police said.
Officers are investigating a possible motive, but said they were wearing keffiyeh – a traditional scarf – and speaking Arabic when attacked.
Police are searching for the suspect.
Burlington police chief Jon Mura said two victims are in a stable condition; the third has suffered much more serious injuries.
All three victims attended Ramallah Friends School, a Quaker-run private non-profit school in Ramallah, according to family members.
Mr Abdalhamid, was named by Haverford College as one of its students. The other two have been named as Brown University student Mr Awartani and Mr Ahmed, who attends Trinity College in Connecticut.
Rich Price, an uncle of one of the victims, said the three men – all aged in their 20s – had been visiting an eight-year-old’s birthday party.
“The last thing that we imagine could be possible was that in our family neighbourhood, they would walk down the street and this would happen to them.
“Less than five minutes [after] them leaving our home, we saw the sirens and the flashing lights of police cruisers go by our house. And we thought, boy, something’s going on.
“No idea that it was my nephew and his friends.”
Earlier, the families of the victims released through the pro-Palestinian non-profit organisation Middle East Understanding, Reuters reported.
They said: “We call on law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime.
“We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice.”
The Council on American-Islamic relations is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The shooting comes as the US deals with a surge in Islamophobic and antisemitic incidents, including violent assaults and online harassment, since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 7 October.
Vermont senator and former Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders posted a condemnation of the latest violence.
Writing on X Mr Sanders said: “It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, Vermont. Hate has no place here, or anywhere.”
Ambassador Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, posted a photo of the trio on social media and added: “The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop.”