Everything We Know About the Man Accused of Shooting 3 Palestinian Students in Vermont

Social media accounts linked to Jason J Eaton by VICE News show a number of troubling posts.
Jason J. Eaton seen in a mugshot following his arrest.
Jason J. Eaton seen in a mugshot following his arrest. Supplied photo.

A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of shooting three college students of Palestinian descent in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday night. 

Two of the three victims were wearing keffiyehs—the black-and-white scarves that have been ubiquitous at pro-Palestine protests—and were speaking a mixture of Arabic and English. 

In a press conference, Burlington police chief Jon Murad alleged that around 6.30 p.m. on Saturday, Jason J. Eaton—described as a white man—stepped off his porch, pulled out a gun, and began firing at the three young men. Two of the victims were shot in the torso, and a third in the “lower extremities.” The suspect then fled on foot. 


Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger characterized the shooting as a “horrific, unprovoked attack” and “one of the most shocking and disturbing events in this city’s history.” 

The victims have been identified as Hisham Awartani, a student from Brown University, Kinnan Abdalhamid, a Haverford College student, and Tahseen Ahmad, a Trinity College student. All three—20-year-old men—had spent Thanksgiving with Awartani’s uncle in Burlington. Eaton lives in an apartment building across from where the shooting took place. 

Police say that Eaton purchased the .380 pistol that he allegedly used in the shooting a few months ago. 

Two of the victims are in stable condition while the third is being treated for more serious injuries. 

VICE News found current and archived social media accounts linked to Eaton, as well as records via the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, that shows he’s worked as a broker and financial adviser on and off in New York state and Vermont since 2002. 

He was most recently employed by Cuso Financial Services, which provides advice to financial institutions like credit unions. Records online indicate that his employment ended earlier this month. Eaton’s mother, Mary Reed, told The Daily Beast that her son had previously worked as “an assistant to a financial officer.” 


In a now-locked account on X, he describes himself as a “radical citizen” who patrols “demockracy and crapitalism for oathcreepers.” His banner image features big bold text, saying “Libertarians want trans furrys (sic) to be able to protect their cannabis farms with unregistered machine guns.” 

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An archived version of his account from 2022 is, by comparison, much more restrained. 

In the archived version, he describes himself as a “dad” and “part-time farmer” and identifies himself as being from Vermont. His archived posts are mainly filled with criticisms of the IRS and the Fed. He describes himself as a Libertarian, and expresses support for both Democrat and Republican lawmakers or candidates. 

His archived account also includes a link to his Substack, “rdkl,” in which he promises “wandering ramblings of a reformed broker on the ADHD/ASD spectrum.” “I’m here to push us over the tipping point,” he wrote. “Do your own diligence. Talk to an adviser. Or just ignore it. For heaven’s sake, don’t risk your life’s savings on my rants.” 

The current version of his Substack has only one post, which is a lengthy essay offering advice to restaurants on how they can retain dishwashers. 

But he appears to have deleted more than a dozen posts since April 2022, according to an archived version. 

One post from March 2022, titled “Thought Crime,” is an anti-vaxx screed that labels COVID-19 as a government conspiracy. “The scale and scope of this operation was next level,” he wrote. 


He also shared other anti-vaxx sentiments on his LinkedIn, and wrote last year that he’d started deleting or unpublishing certain posts because “my ideas make some people not want to hire me.”

He also has an Instagram account, which is largely dedicated to sharing images from his farm. Only one post hints at any ideological or political outlook, which is a screenshot from the Urban Dictionary definition of “Amerika”: “a word used to describe the worst sense of the United States, i.e. imperialism, corruption, and the global exportation of American culture.” 

His Instagram links to another blog, which has the same name as his Substack and contains rambling podcasts about the financial system. He’s also uploaded documentation of his various qualifications over the years. One document indicates that he was a Boy Scout leader between at least 2017 and 2021. 

Boy Scouts of America confirmed to VICE News that Eaton was last registered as an assistant scoutmaster with a local unit in Upstate New York, but was not currently a member of Boy Scouts. “Upon learning of his arrest he has been banned from registering in Scouting in any capacity and will be proactively placed in the Volunteer Screening Database, permanently preventing his registration or participation in the future.”

Eaton’s mother, Mary Reed, told the Daily Beast that they’d just spent Thanksgiving together and nothing seemed amiss with her son. He made no reference to the Israel-Hamas conflict, which has become sharply polarizing in the U.S. She said that Eaton has had struggles with mental health in the past, and described him as a “very religious person” who regularly reads the Bible and finds connections to various religious figures.


In Monday’s press conference, Police Chief Murad described how authorities identified Eaton as a suspect. 

On Sunday, while doing a secondary sweep of an apartment building across the road from the scene of the shooting, ATF investigators knocked on the door of an apartment that they’d gotten no response from the previous night. Murad said that Eaton stepped out of the apartment with his palms up, and stated something to the effect of “I’ve been waiting for you.” When investigators asked why, he replied “I would like a lawyer.” 

Eaton confirmed that there was a gun inside his apartment, and repeated that he wanted a lawyer, said Murad, and appeared “nervous” and “was shaking.”  Investigators got a warrant to search his apartment, and through the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, were able to connect the firearm they found inside to the casings that were located at the site of the shooting. 

Murad said that although he appeared nervous, he displayed “very little reaction when being told he was being charged with attempted murder.” 

Authorities are yet to identify a motive in the attack, despite growing calls from civil rights organizations to investigate the shooting as a possible hate crime. Local, state and federal law enforcement are investigating the shooting. Nikolas P. Kerest, United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, released a statement saying that his office, together with the Civil Rights Division, “will assess the evidence generated to determine whether a federal crime may have been committed.” 


Murad has urged the public to avoid jumping to conclusions until they’ve determined a motive for the shooting. "In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime," Murad said in an earlier statement. “We're working every investigatory angle on this case, and will continue to provide reliable, factual information to public while protecting the victims and our investigation."

Burlington Police Department released the mugshot of Eaton, adding that this was an unusual step that they only took because misinformation had spread online falsely identifying a different man by the same name as the shooter. 

Two of the shooting victims are U.S. citizens and the third is a legal resident. All three attended school together in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. 

“These three young men are incredible,” said Rich Price, who is the uncle of one of the victims and hosted all three men for Thanksgiving, as he has done in previous years, at Monday’s press conference. “That’s not just a proud uncle speaking, it’s true. They’re committed to building incredible lives.” 

Kinnan Abdalhamid’s uncle also spoke briefly at the press conference, having just flown in from California. He said that his family sent his nephew to the U.S. “because they thought it would be safer” than life in the West Bank. “I feel somehow betrayed in that decision,” he said. 

Eaton has so far been charged with three counts of attempted murder, and has pleaded not guilty. He is being held without bail.