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Ex of man charged with shooting Palestinian students had police remove his gun from her home in 2013

Nov 30, 2023, 11:38 AM

An ex-girlfriend of the man charged with shooting and wounding three college students of Palestinian descent in Vermont asked police 10 years ago to remove his gun from her home after she said the couple had split up and she did not feel safe returning it herself, according to police.

The Syracuse, New York, woman told police on Aug. 1, 2013, that she wanted to turn in the shotgun of her ex-boyfriend Jason Eaton, saying she had recently ended the relationship and didn’t want the gun in her home, Lt. Matthew Malinowski of the Syracuse police wrote in a email to The Associated Press on Thursday, summarizing the report. NBC News first reported on the incident.

The woman said she had a history of domestic violence with Eaton and didn’t want any contact with him and that he did not currently live with her. She turned over the DeerSlayer 20-gauge shotgun, which was logged into evidence, Malinowski said.

Eaton’s publicly appointed attorneys did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

In 2019, another ex-girlfriend of Eaton’s called police in Dewitt, New York, a town near Syracuse, saying she had received numerous text messages, emails and phone calls that were sexual in nature but not threatening from him and that he had driven by her home, according to a police report.

She said she didn’t want to press charges but just wanted police to tell him to stop contacting her, the report states. Eaton said he was under the impression that the woman still wanted to see him and when the officer told him that she wanted absolutely no contact he said he understood, according to police.

Eaton had moved to Vermont this summer from Syracuse, according to Burlington, Vermont, police.

The 48-year-old was arrested Sunday at his Burlington apartment on three counts of attempted murder. Authorities say he shot and seriously wounded Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ali Ahmad in Burlington on Saturday evening as they were walking in his neighborhood near the University of Vermont. The 20-year-old students had been spending Thanksgiving break with Abdalhamid’s uncle who lives nearby.

The students were conversing in a mix of English and Arabic and two of them were also wearing black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarves when they were shot, police said.

Authorities are investigating Saturday’s shooting to determine whether it constitutes a hate crime. Threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities have increased across the U.S. since the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

Eaton pleaded not guilty on Monday and is being held without bail. His name appeared in 37 Syracuse police reports from 2007 until 2021, but never as a suspect, said Malinowski. The cases ranged from domestic violence to larceny, and Eaton was listed as either a victim or the person filing the complaint in 21 of the reports, Malinowski said.

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Rathke reported from Marshfield, Vermont. Associated Press reporter Michael Casey contributed from Boston.

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Ex of man charged with shooting Palestinian students had police remove his gun from her home in 2013