Updated Jan 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department charges man who allegedly sold gun to Colleyville synagogue gunman

Colleyville synagogue

Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Tx. Photo: Emil Lippe/Getty Images

The man believed to have sold a gun to Malik Faisal Akram, the British national who held four people hostage in a Texas synagogue earlier this month, was charged with a federal firearm crime Tuesday, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It was previously unknown how Akram had procured the gun he used to carry out his act.

The big picture: In a criminal complaint, Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, was charged for being a felon in possession of a firearm, per the press release.

  • Williams made his first appearance before a judge Wednesday afternoon.
  • Williams allegedly sold Akram the weapon on Jan. 13, two days before Akram took four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville.
  • The suspect allegedly admitted to officers that he had sold the gun to Akram, who he said told him that he needed the weapon for “intimidation” of someone who owed him money.
  • Williams had previously been convicted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, according to the DOJ's statement.

What they're saying: "Federal firearm laws are designed to keep guns from falling into dangerous hands. As a convicted felon, Mr. Williams was prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms," U.S. Attorney Chad Meacham said in the press release.

  • "Whether or not he knew of his buyer’s nefarious intent is largely irrelevant — felons cannot have guns, period, and the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who do,” he added.
  • “We are grateful to the many officers and agents who sprang into action as soon as the synagogue hostage crisis began, and who worked tirelessly to track the weapon from Mr. Akram to Mr. Williams. The freed hostages, the Beth Israel congregation, and indeed the entire Jewish community deserve that support.” 

What to watch: Williams is set to appear at a detention hearing on Jan. 31.

Go deeper