Rabbi recounts Texas synagogue siege
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker was preparing for Shabbat services inside Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday when the 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram knocked on the window. Cytron-Walker on Monday told CBS Mornings he let the suspect in and offered him tea, thinking he needed shelter. It wasn’t until a few congregants gathered and the service began that the rabbi heard a gun click behind him.
How did they escape? After an hourslong standoff, Cytron-Walker and two other remaining hostages seized an opportunity to get away when Akram moved away from an exit door. “I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door, and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired,” he said. An FBI SWAT team then breached the synagogue and shot and killed the gunman. Authorities said Akram first landed in New York from London on Dec. 29 and stayed in several homeless shelters, including in Dallas, before the attack. During the standoff last weekend, he repeatedly demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a federal prisoner convicted for trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. Police in Manchester, England, announced they have arrested two teenagers that ABC News reported were Akram’s children.
Dig deeper: From the WORLD archive, listen to Sarah Schweinsberg’s 2019 report on a surge in anti-Semitic attacks.
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