A man was released unharmed from a standoff at a Dallas-area synagogue where a man was holding at least four people hostage


Google Earth view of Temple Beth Israel, Colleyville, Texas

Google Earth

A man has been released unharmed from a standoff at a Dallas-area synagogue where a man was holding at least four people hostage.

Shortly after 5 p.m. local time, a male hostage was released unharmed. This man will be reunited with his family as soon as possible and he does not need medical attention. FBI crisis negotiators continue contact with the hostage taker.

The Colleyville Police Department said on Twitter he was conducting SWAT operations at the Congregation Beth Israel location in Colleyville, Texas. The FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety were also at the scene, according to CNN. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a tweet it was also helping the situation.

CNN reported that no injuries have been reported so far and residents in the immediate area have been evacuated.

The synagogue had been streaming its service live on Facebook when listeners began to hear muffled audio between a suspected hostage taker and negotiators, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The video has since been taken down.

The newspaper said an angry man could be heard ranting and talking about religion, but the live stream did not show what was happening inside the building. The man allegedly mentioned his sister and Islam, and repeatedly said he thought he was going to die, according to the report.

Texas resident Victoria Francis told The Associated Press that she watched the live broadcast for about an hour before it was interrupted. She said she heard the man fuming at America and claiming he had a bomb.

SWAT team members fan out near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, about 40 miles west of Dallas, January 15, 2022.

Andy Jacobson | AFP | Getty Images

“He was just all over the map. He was quite irritated and the more irritated he was, he made more threats, like ‘I’m the guy with the bomb. If you make a mistake, it’s all up to you. ‘ And he was laughing about it,” she said. “He was clearly in extreme distress.”

Francis, who lives in Rhome, Texas, and grew up near Colleyville, tuned in after reading about the hostage situation. She said it appeared the man was talking to the police department on the phone, with the rabbi and another person trying to help with negotiations.

When the live broadcast cut off, the man was getting quite furious, Francis told AP.

“It’s a scary situation. I hope it ends in the best possible way, obviously without anyone getting hurt,” she said. “Especially in this area, you never think something like this is going to hit home until it does.”

Colleyville, a town of about 26,000, is about 16 miles northeast of Fort Worth.

A White House official told NBC News he was “closely monitoring” the potential hostage situation.

The hostage taker told authorities he wanted Aafia Siddiqui released from federal prison, according to NBC News, citing three senior law enforcement officials. Siddiqui was convicted by a federal jury in 2010 of attempting to kill US officers in Afghanistan. She is currently being held at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. It was not immediately clear if the person was related to Siddiqui.

Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who graduated from Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison for assaulting and shooting US army officers after being detained in Afghanistan for two more years. early. The punishment sparked outrage in Pakistan among political leaders and her supporters, who saw her as a victim of the US criminal justice system.

In the years that followed, Pakistani officials publicly expressed interest in any sort of deal or exchange that might result in his release from U.S. custody, and his case continued to attract the attention of his supporters. In 2018, for example, an Ohio man who prosecutors say planned to fly to Texas and attack the prison where Siddiqui is being held in an effort to free her, was sentenced to 22 years in prison. jail.

A law enforcement officer walks through an intersection near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue on January 15, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Three senior law enforcement officials briefed on the case said the hostage taker asked the Dallas rabbi to call a rabbi in New York, NBC News reported. The New York rabbi then called 911. As a precaution, the New York Police Department is deploying additional officers to local synagogues, but there are no known additional threats at this time.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was monitoring the situation closely. “We pray for the safety of hostages and rescuers,” he wrote on Twitter.

Israel’s consul general in Houston is en route to the scene of the incident, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement, adding that Israeli officials “are in close contact with U.S. law enforcement. “.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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