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Texas rabbi says he, 2 hostages escaped synagogue standoff

COLLEYVILLE (Texas) -- After a 10-hour standoff, the rabbi of a Texas synagogue claims he threw a chair at a gunman and then escaped along with two other hostages.

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Texas rabbi says he, 2 hostages escaped synagogue standoff


Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker told CBS Mornings on Monday that the gunman entered his home Saturday because he seemed to be in desperate need of shelter. The man appeared to be not suspicious or threatening at first, he said. He heard the gun clicking as he was praying later.


Authorities have identified the hostage-taker to be Malik Faisal Akram (44-year-old British citizen), who was killed Saturday night as Congregation Beth Israel's last hostages fled around 9 p.m.


Jeffrey R. Cohen, another hostage, posted a description of the ordeal on Facebook.


"First, we escaped. Cohen stated that we weren't freed or released.


THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Below is the original story by AP.


COLLEYVILLE (Texas) -- U.S. authorities and British authorities continued Monday their investigation into the weekend standoff in Texas' synagogue. The incident ended with an armed British national being killed and a rabbi claiming that he and three other members of his congregation were able to escape safely due to past security training.


Authorities have identified the hostage-taker to be a 44-year old British national, Malik Faisal Akram. He was killed Saturday night, shortly after Congregation Beth Israel's last hostages fled around 9 p.m.


Sunday night, the FBI released a statement describing the incident as "a terrorist-related matter" and stating that the Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating. The FBI noted that Akram repeatedly spoke during negotiations about Akram, a U.S. prisoner serving an 86 year sentence.


Akram was heard ranting over a Facebook livestream and demanding the release Aafia SIDDIQUI, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of being connected to al-Qaida. Siddiqui was convicted for trying to kill U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan.


The investigation grew to England where police in Manchester, England announced late Sunday that two teenage boys were being held in connection to the standoff. Greater Manchester Police stated that counter-terrorism officers made the arrests, but didn't say if the pair were facing any charges.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker said that security training at his Fort Worth suburb congregation over the years was what enabled him and the three other hostages to survive the 10-hour ordeal. He described it as traumatizing.


Cytron-Walker stated that the gunman became more belligerent and threatening in the final hour of hostage crisis. "We would not have been able to act and flee if we had not received the instruction," Cytron-Walker said.


Dallas TV station WFAA captured the end of the standoff. It showed people running out of a synagogue's door, followed by a man with a gun opening that same door seconds later. He then turned around and closed the door. A few seconds later, several shots were heard and then an explosion.


Authorities declined to identify Akram's shooter, stating that it was still being investigated.


The episode was branded a terrorist act by President Joe Biden. Biden claimed that Akram had allegedly bought a weapon from the streets while speaking to Philadelphia reporters on Sunday.


According to an anonymous source familiar with the matter, federal investigators believe Akram bought the handgun used for the hostage taking in private sales. This is despite the fact that the investigation is ongoing. A law enforcement official stated that Akram arrived in America at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York approximately two weeks ago.


According to an American official, Akram entered the U.S. on a tourist visa issued by Great Britain recently. The Metropolitan Police of London stated in a statement that it was working with U.S. authorities to address the matter.


Although it was not clear why Akram chose the synagogue for her, Siddiqui is currently in Fort Worth.


Michael Finfer, president of the congregation, stated in a statement that there was only a 1 in a million chance the gunman chose our congregation.


According to law enforcement officials, Akram used his cellphone to communicate with other people during negotiations.


Multiple witnesses heard Siddiqui, the hostage-taker, refer to Siddiqui's "sister" via the livestream. John Floyd, the Houston chapter's board chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim advocacy organization, said that Siddiqui was not involved.


Victoria Francis, a Texas resident, claimed she saw about an hour of the livestream and heard him rant against America, claiming he had a bomb. Biden claimed that there weren't any explosives despite threats.


He was all over the place. He was very irritable and would make more threats like "I'm the one with the bomb." Francis stated, "If you make a mistake it's all on you." He was clearly in severe distress."


Colleyville is a 26,000-strong community located 15 miles (23 km) northeast Fort Worth. Cytron-Walker refused to talk about the episode when Cytron-Walker was able to reach him outside his house Sunday. It's overwhelming, as you can imagine. He told the AP that it was not enjoyable yesterday.


Andrew Marc Paley was a Dallas rabbi, who was called upon to assist families and hostages after their release. He said that Cytron-Walker served as a comforting and calm presence. Paley stated that the first hostage was released just after 5 p.m. This was about the time that food was delivered to the synagogue. However, he didn't know if this was part of the negotiations.


Cytron-Walker stated that his congregation received training from local authorities as well as the Secure Community Network. This network was established in 2004 by a coalition Jewish organizations. It is "the official safety organization and security organization of the Jewish community in North America." Michael Masters, the CEO, stated that the congregation had received security training in August, and was not aware of Akram.


This led to authorities tightening security in other areas, including New York City. Police claimed that they increased their presence at "key Jewish institutions" because of the standoff.

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