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DOJ Investigating Whether Vermont Shooting Was A Hate Crime; Qatar: Agreement Reached To Extend Truce By 2 Days & Red Cross Key Player in Facilitating Releases; Israeli Military Gives Update On Hostage Deal, Truce Extension. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 27, 2023 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We're learning new details about the suspect who was accused of shooting three Palestinian college students in Vermont. Today, Jason Eaton was arraigned in a Burlington courtroom where he pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder charges.

According to court documents, the students were walking back from a bowling alley. They were speaking a mix of Arabic and English when a man approach them and began shooting. All three of them remain in the ICU.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now live from Burlington.

Polo, the Justice Department announced it is investigating whether the attack was a hate crime. What have you learned?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are following this investigation very closely, Brianna, at the federal level.


And the people of this community, they are really coming together and rallying around these three young men who, as you point, are actually from out of town. They were visiting Burlington over the Thanksgiving holiday.

They were out for an evening walk when, according to police, 48-year- old Jason Eaton stepped off his porch armed with piston and then opened fire, critically wounding one of the three young men, though all three sustained gunshots.

And we're told, as an update just few moments ago from city hall, that they continue their recovery. Some with much longer roads to recovery than others.

But what is also extremely interesting is we heard from investigators really sort of opening up about what led them to knock on the door of Mr. Eaton yesterday.

It was just a series of door knocks at the site of the shooting when, according to the police chief, they knocked on the 48-year-old's door.

And at that point, according to court documents, he said, quote, "I've been waiting for you." And that's when investigators come back with a search warrant eventually after detaining him.

They searched his apartment and they were able to find a.380 caliber pistol. The ballistic evidence has now, according to police, been able to link that pistol recovered inside the apartment with the casings that were recovered at the site of Sunday's shooting.

So if you hear from police, they will say they are confident that they know who carried out that shooting, the man that is currently behind bars and has entered a plea of not guilty to three attempted murder charges.

The other question is what actually motivated this shooting in the first place? Police say it is still too soon at this point to officially consider this a hate crime.

But the uncles of two of the young men saying, they've seen just about everything they need to see.


RICH PRICE, UNCLE OF HISHAM AWARTANI: I believe the families' fear that this was motivated by hate. That these boys, these young men were targeted because they were Arabs, what they were wearing.

I think that is our fear. And we'll support the authorities as they go through their investigation but certainly seems like that's our fear.


SANDOVAL: We just heard from Rich Price. His nephew perhaps faces the toughest road to recovery with a bullet still embedded in his spine.

And he told me a few moments ago, Brianna, that it is likely they will have to leave it as is because of the risks that come with actually removing it.

I also had a quick conversation with another uncle of one of the other boys and saying just that the irony here. They left Palestine, coming to study in the United States, and then this happens on the sidewalk in Burlington, Vermont.

KEILAR: Polo, are any of them -- I mean, are they conscious? What else do you know about their condition at this point and what they're able to share with authorities?

SANDOVAL: As of the last update, we know one of them was listed in critical condition. Two of them are stable. In fact, one of them is expected to make a full recovery.

But all of them still hospitalized and, without a doubt, looking forward to the day their family members, many of them still in Gaza, for example, will be able to make that journey here to the United States to be by their children's side.

KEILAR: It's horrific.

Polo, thank you for that report live for us from Burlington, Vermont.

A critical component to the hostage and prisoner releases is the International Committee of the Red Cross. The spokesman of the ICRC will be joining us next to discuss the process and the humanitarian crisis as well on the ground there. Stay with us for that.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel. We are continuing to follow the latest developments on the Israel-Hamas truce. Qatari officials today announced that both sides have agreed to extend the truce for an additional two days.

And the International Community of the Red Cross has been a key player in facilitating the release of these hostages.

Jason Straziuso is the spokesperson for the ICRC, the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Jason, thanks, as usual, for joining us. We've spoken several times.

Is there anything, first of all, you can tell us about tonight's expected release of more hostages?

JASON STRAZIUSO, SPOKESPERSON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE RED CROSS: I know people are really interested, eager for news on this fourth

evening of a potential hostage release.

The most I can tell you right now is that I don't have any indication that it is not going to happen. But given the conservative approach we take to assure the safety of the hostages and our team, there is no other information I have on whether it has started or ongoing right now.

BLITZER: Has there already been a delay, Jason?

STRAZIUSO: Also a super pertinent question. I let off that chuckle because it is another piece of information I don't have.

Here's why. We have a very, very small team of people in direct communication with the Israeli government based in Tel Aviv.

We have a very, very small team of people in Gaza in touch with Hamas, coordinating between the two sides, working with them both. When is the timing? When can we move? Is it safe? Is everything clear?


Those people are concentrating on getting the operation to a successful conclusion. And then, once it is concluded, they will start passing information down to people at my level here in Geneva, Switzerland.

So unfortunately, even though it could be happening right now, it's just not -- it's just not the kind of information I'm able to confirm.

BLITZER: So you can confirm that at least some of the hostages have already been transferred to the International Committee of the Red Cross?

STRAZIUSO: No, I can't. I wish I could. In fact, I simply don't know. It's not an issue of me being evasive. I, sitting here in Switzerland, do not know if it has started.

Only our manager, our head of delegation in Tel Aviv and our head of office in Gaza, those would be the two people who know. And right now, they're not interested in speaking with --


BLITZER: Jason, hold on. I want to make sure our viewers are hearing you. Let me ask our producers.

Are our viewers hearing Jason OK?

Jason, can you hear me OK?


BLITZER: I think we may have lost our connection.


BLITZER: Everybody stand by. Let's take a quick break. We'll reconnect with everyone, continue this important conversation right after this.



KEILAR: All right, at this point, we are continuing to follow the latest developments on this Israel-Hamas truce that has been extended for a couple of days here. Qatari officials announced both sides had agreed to this extension.

I want to listen to the IDF spokesperson just holding a press conference moments ago. Here is part of it.


DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Ten month baby, I'll tell you, ruthless terrorists are holding him hostage in Gaza.

We call on the international organization, especially the Red Cross, to use every tool at their disposal to gain access to all hostages, to make sure they're receiving the medical care they need. Our hostages are not lost. We won't sit around and hope they're found.

We will rescue our hostages at all costs.

It is our duty. It is our moral responsibility of the Israeli Defense Forces. It's why we fight, and why we must keep on fighting until all our hostages are home.








KEILAR: All right, we are listening there to IDF spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, giving an update on the hostage situation there as this truce between Hamas and Israel has been extended for two days.


He said they are calling on the Red Cross to monitor their hostages. This is something that Israel and the U.S. had been calling for. They say this is part of the deal with Hamas.

But the ICRC, at this point, saying they have not been given the go ahead to do that.

Obviously, a lot of concerns as hostages come out of Gaza, some with malnutrition, some obviously with some pretty serious health conditions, that the ones that remain behind are not necessarily in good shape.

And this is something that Israel obviously wants to make sure that a third party is going in to assure.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with the latest on the hostage situation in Gaza.