Jan 18, 2022 - News

How the Colleyville synagogue standoff ended

A police vehicle outside a synagogue

The eyes of the world turned to Colleyville. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

When the rabbi being held hostage for more than 10 hours at the Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville on Saturday saw the situation deteriorating, he decided to throw a chair at the gunman and make a break for the exits.

Why it matters: The standoff ended without any of the four hostages injured, but left the gunman dead.

What they’re saying: The gunman, later identified as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, “wasn’t getting what he wanted,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told CBS Mornings, in the most in-depth interview since the events unfolded. “It didn’t look good. It didn’t sound good. We were terrified.”

  • “When I saw an opportunity when he wasn’t in a good position, I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me — that they were ready to go,” Cytron-Walker said. “The exit wasn’t too far away. I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door.”

How it started: The rabbi told CBS that the hostage taker originally knocked on the glass door of the synagogue. Cytron-Walker offered to make him tea.

  • “Some of his story didn’t quite add up, so I was a little bit curious, but that’s not necessarily an uncommon thing,” the rabbi said.
  • When Cytron-Walker turned his back to pray, facing Jerusalem, he heard a click. It was the hostage taker’s gun.

The big picture: Authorities said they believe the suspect was motivated by a desire to free a Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86-year sentence in a Texas prison for assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees and nationals in Afghanistan.

Details: The FBI flew in a special hostage rescue team from Quantico, Virginia, according to reporting from NPR.

  • "It's very likely this situation would have ended very badly early on in the day had we not had professional, consistent negotiation with the subject," FBI Dallas special agent in charge Matt DeSarno told reporters.

Meanwhile, the families of the men inside gathered at a nearby Catholic church during the standoff, per WFAA.

  • “When our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community were suffering, we suffered with them,” the Rev. Michael Higgins, the priest at Good Shepherd Catholic Community said.

In the end: Cytron-Walker says he’s still processing what happened. “It’s been a lot,” he told CBS. “It’s completely overwhelming.”

"I just want to give thanks and appreciation for all of the love and all of the support from the Jewish community, my people, from the Muslim community, from the Christian community, from all faiths, all backgrounds, friends, acquaintances, strangers all over the world. It's truly been overwhelming. Thank you so much."


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