Worshipers invited a stranger to a Texas synagogue when he knocked on the door and offered him tea before brandishing a gun and holding them hostage in a 10-hour siege that the FBI called a “terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was attacked.” .”
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among four worshipers captured on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, told CBS Monday that he and others managed to escape after he threw a chair at the kidnapper and then ran for an exit door. .
The FBI identified the man as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen.
“When I took him in, I stayed with him. Making tea was an opportunity for me to talk to him. And at the time, I didn’t hear anything suspicious. Part of his story didn’t quite add up, so I was a little curious, but that’s not necessarily uncommon,” the rabbi said.
The rabbi went back to prayer, after which he said that he “heard a click, and it could have been anything, but it turned out to be his gun.”
One hostage was released unharmed after six hours of tense negotiations with the help of the suspect’s family. The incident ended with gunshots and the suspect was killed when members of an FBI hostage rescue team raided the synagogue.
It was unclear if the gunman took his own life or was killed by members of the FBI team. The FBI said its Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating the incident.
Cytron-Walker, the rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, west of Dallas, Texas, said he turned to FBI hostage training to determine when he might try to escape.
“When I saw an opportunity where I wasn’t in a good position, I made sure that the two gentlemen still with me were ready to go (and that) the exit wasn’t too far away.” Cytron-Walker said.
“I told them to go away. I threw a chair at the gunman, headed for the door and the three of us were able to get out without even firing a shot.”
Police in England said they have detained two teenagers for questioning in connection with the case.
Hate crimes against the US Jewish community make up more than half of all religion-based crimes nationwide, the Anti-Defamation League said.