(Reuters) - The man accused of shooting and wounding three college students of Palestinian descent in Burlington, Vermont, over the weekend pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges on Monday and was ordered by a judge to remain held without bond.
Jason J. Eaton, 48, was arraigned in Chittenden County Criminal Court in Burlington, appearing via a video feed from the county jail where he has been detained since his arrest on Sunday, the day after the attack.
Police have said investigators were treating Saturday evening's gun violence in the heart of Vermont's largest city as a suspected hate-motivated crime.
Two of the three men who were shot recounted they were wearing black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, and one said they were conversing in a mix of English and Arabic when the gunman confronted them, according to charging documents filed in court.
The three friends - identified in court documents as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Aliahmad, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, all aged 20 - remained under medical care on Monday with gunshot wounds to the spine, chest, and buttocks, respectively, authorities said.
The victims told police they were shot while strolling near the University of Vermont, about a block from the house of Awartani's grandmother, following an afternoon at a bowling alley, according to a police affidavit filed in support of the charges.
All three men are undergraduate students at colleges in other cities but were staying with Awartani and his relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to police, Easton approached the three men right outside his apartment, drew his pistol, and wordlessly opened fire from a few steps away, then vanished from the scene. Investigators said he fired four shots in all.