AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a hostage situation that lasted all day at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue near Dallas-Fort Worth, all of the people being held for nearly 12 hours are out alive and unharmed.
The hostage taker is dead, according the chief of police at Colleyville. Law enforcement would not confirm his identity Saturday night.
One of the hostages, a man, was released shortly after 5 p.m. local time and was not injured, police reported. The others were released just after 9:30 p.m.
The synagogue’s rabbi was among the hostages, according to information provided by law enforcement officials to The Associated Press.
The FBI called out an elite hostage rescue team out of Quantico, Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller said in a news briefing Saturday night. That team brought 60 or 70 people from Washington D.C., Miller estimated.
On the Congregation Beth Israel-Collyville, Texas Facebook page, KXAN could hear a man angrily ranting in a live stream that was started during Saturday morning’s worship and continued to run for several hours. You could not see into the synagogue in that stream. Just before 2 p.m., it was taken down.
During that stream, the man rambled about religion, how he didn’t like police officers and asked someone to “put his sister on the phone.” Before the stream cut out he could be heard saying, “don’t storm the building or everyone will die.”
The man told authorities he wanted Aafia Siddiqui to be released from federal prison — she’s being held in Fort Worth — according to KXAS-TV. Siddiqui was convicted by a federal jury in 2010 of attempting to kill U.S. officers in Afghanistan.
“This assailant has nothing to do with Dr. Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr. Aafia,” wrote the board chair for the Houston Council on American-Islamic Relations, John Floyd, in a release where CAIR-Houston condemned the suspect.
The Dallas Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said they assisted the Dallas FBI and the Colleyville Police Department on scene. The local police department first tweeted about the SWAT situation Saturday afternoon.
All residents in the immediate area were evacuated.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said police would be doing extra patrols to synagogues and other sites as a precaution. Dallas police was also reportedly working with the Jewish Federation and local, state and federal partners.
“This latest antisemitic attack at a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community,” wrote the national deputy director for CAIR, Edward Ahmed Mitchell. “No cause can justify or excuse this crime.”
Back in Austin, police reported adding extra patrols to local Jewish centers and facilities, including synagogues Saturday night.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a tweet that he was “closely monitoring” the situation and added that his office was ready to assist the Colleyville Police Department, so did Gov. Greg Abbott in a tweet. Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that the President Biden had been briefed as well and that “senior members of the national security team are also in touch with federal law enforcement leadership.”