Hostages Escape at Texas Synagogue — Suspect Dead

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas
Photo by ANDY JACOBSOHN/AFP via Getty Images

A man took four hostages at a Jewish synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday morning. After a ten-hour standoff, the three remaining hostages escaped and an FBI Hostage Rescue Team made entry. The FBI confirmed the suspect is dead.

This is a developing story. Scroll down for updates.

UPDATE, 10:30 p.m.: FBI officials confirmed the suspected hostage-taker is deceased.

Colleyville Police Chief Michael C. Miller said the FBI flew in 60-70 people from the Hostage Rescue Team in Quantico, Virginia.

FBI Special Agent in Charge for Dallas Matthew DeSarno said the team made the decision to enter the synagogue and rescued all three of the remaining hostages. He said they were unharmed and would be returning to their families. He said the team maintained near-constant contact with the suspect.

UPDATE, 10 p.m.: Colleyville Police Department officials tweeted the incident is resolved and confirmed the hostages are safe.

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted the news that the hostages are out, alive, and safe.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports a loud bang was heard at about 9:12 p.m. followed by gunfire. U.S. Rep. Veth Van Duyne told their reporter the hostage-taker is dead.

UPDATE, 8:22 p.m.: CAIR also reports the hostage-taker is not the actual brother of Aafia Siddiqui. CAIR-Houston Board Chair John Floyd, long-time legal counsel for the brother of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui wrote:

We want to make it very well known that the hostage-taker is NOT Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s brother, who is not even in the same region where this horrible incident is taking place. We want the hostage-taker to know that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and her family strongly condemn this act and do not stand by you. Dr. Aafia’s family has always stood firm in advocating for the release of their sister from incarceration by legal and non-violent means only.

UPDATE, 7:55 p.m.: ABC News Correspondent Aaron Katersky tweeted that he has learned Siddiqui’s brother is not the suspect in the hostage-taking case in Colleyville. “Earlier I tweeted the suspect in Colleyville had claimed to be the brother of Aafia Siddiqui,” Katersky tweeted. “Her brother’s lawyer said his client is in Houston and he relayed that information to law enforcement.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, “According to ABC, the FBI has not confirmed the hostage-taker’s identity. Anyone who supports Siddiqui’s cause might call himself her brother even if they’re not related.”

UPDATE, 7:00 p.m.: ABC News reports the suspect allegedly carried a backpack when he entered the synagogue. He claims to have explosives. FBI officials have not confirmed this but are treating the situation as if it is true.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: Colleyville Police officials announced the release of a male hostage. Police said the suspect released the man shortly after 5 p.m. local time. Officials report the man required no medical attention and is to be reunited with his family.
The man confirmed earlier reports that three other hostage remain inside. No one has been injured so far in this matter.

FBI negotiators continue to communicate with the suspect and the SWAT team continues its operation.

UPDATE, 5:35 p.m.: Written statement from Texas Governor Greg Abbott:

The Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville. The State of Texas is ready to provide additional assistance as requested and we will continue to monitor the situation. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me as we pray for the safety of the congregants.

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: CAIR National Deputy Director Ed Ahmed Mitchell condemned the hostage-taking, calling it an “unspeakable act of evil.”

“We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. This latest antisemitic attack at a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil,” Mitchell said in a written statement. “We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, and we pray that law enforcement authorities are able to swiftly and safely free the hostages.”

“No cause can justify or excuse this crime,” he added. “We are in contact with local community leaders to learn more and provide any assistance that we can.”

UPDATE, 5:20 p.m.: Colleyville Police Department statement on the ongoing SWAT operation.

UPDATE, 4:55 p.m.: NBCDFW reports:

Harold Gernsbacher, chair of the Secure Community Network, an organization dedicated to the safety and security of the American Jewish community, told NBC 5 they believe the man entered the synagogue and took hostages in an attempt to free an imprisoned woman.

“To our understanding, there is a single man … he is very concerned about a female that was incarcerated for 85 years on a significant list of terroristic charges. His objective, what he has said, is to work to free that person,” Gernsbacher said.

UPDATE, 4:40 p.m.: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the suspect is reportedly heard in a Facebook live stream asking for his sister to be released from prison. He reportedly said he didn’t want anyone to be hurt and that he believes he is going to die. A reported 8,000 viewers were watching the synagogue Facebook video as the situation unfolded.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.:  NBCDFW NBC5 reports the suspect is allegedly holding four hostages inside the synagogue, according to a law enforcement source at the scene including the rabbi.

Colleyville PD spokesperson Sgt. Dara Nelson told WFAA that no one has reportedly been hurt in the standoff as of this time.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson tweeted that Dallas police officials are deploying additional patrols to synagogues and “other sites.”

“Police are working with the Jewish Federation and our local, state, and federal partners to monitor any concerns or threats based on the situation in Colleyville.”

UPDATE 4:15 p.m.: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a source at the scene told ABC News that the suspect claims to have bombs in unknown locations.

UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.:  Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that he is monitoring the “tense hostage situation.” “I continue to monitor the situation through DPS.”

UPDATE, 4:00 p.m.:  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the gunman claims to be the brother of Aafia Siddiqui, “a known terrorist who is incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center Carswell. Authorities have yet to confirm the alleged hostage taker’s identity.

The local outlet reports:

U.S. authorities say Siddiqui is a dangerous terrorist with ties to the ringleader of 9/11. Counter-terrorism groups have dubbed her “Lady al-Qaeda,” and U.S. officials once described her as “the most wanted woman in the world.” The U.S. government has refused to trade her for American hostages multiple times, including for journalist James Foley prior to his execution by ISIS.

UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.: Colleyville Police report the SWAT operation continues. The police ask the public to stay away from the area.


Colleyville Police Department officials tweeted they are involved in a SWAT operation in the 6100 block of Pleasant Road. The scene is the location of the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue.

The FBI is also responding to the scene along with Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, WFAA ABC8 reports.

The incident erupted during a live-stream broadcast from inside the synagogue for the Shabbat service, according to The Jerusalem Post. They report a gunman “with a British accent” rushed in and “threatened hostages.”

The live stream of the service continued for several more minutes before being cut off. The Jewish news outlet reports Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is one of those being held hostage.

Colleyville Police Department Sergeant Dara Nelson told CNN, “The FBI negotiators are the ones who have contact with the person in the building.” There is “no threat to the general public” at this time,” the spokesperson added.

ABC News Correspondent Erielle Reshef tweeted that the suspect claims to be armed. He reportedly says he is the brother of Aafia Siddiqui, a suspected terrorist charged with trying to kill U.S. military personnel.

Reshef reported Siddiqui is being held at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, Texas.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram cited the ABC report and added that Siddiqui is being held at the Federal Medical Center at Carswell AFB.

Colleyville is a small community of about 26,000 people located about 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth.

NBC News reports:

Congregation Beth Israel began in 1998 as a chavurah or a small group of Jewish people who gather for prayer services, according to its website. The group officially established a synagogue in Colleyville in July 1999, and began services at its current location in 2005.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

Editor’s Note: The headline was updated to reflect information discovered after the three remaining hostages escaped.


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