Hostage Crisis at Colleyville Synagogue: What Is Known So Far?
01:55 GMT 16.01.2022 (Updated: 04:37 GMT 16.01.2022)
The scene has remained tense for more than five hours, as the FBI is still negotiating with the gunman, who is reportedly the brother of a convicted terrorist with alleged links to al-Qaeda*.
No one has been reported injured so far in a hostage situation at a synagogue in the small town of Colleyville, which began during a Shabbat service.
Four people, including a rabbi of the congregation, were taken hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday morning at approximately 10 a.m. local time.
The scene unfolded as the Shabbat service was being streamed live on Facebook, continuing for nearly an hour after the suspect entered the building before it was abruptly cut off.
The Colleyville Police Department tweeted that SWAT operations were being conducted in the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Road.
The perpetrator was reported to be acting alone and is allegedly armed with an unidentified type of weapon.
During the stream, although the face of the suspect could not be seen, he could be heard in emotional anguish, repeating multiple times that he was "going to die doing this", and asking someone not to cry about his fate.
FBI negotiators have established contact with the hostage-taker, according to media reports. The perpetrator reportedly warned the law enforcement officers against attempting an assault by threatening to kill the hostages.
The attacker, who reportedly claimed to have "bombs" with him, was identified by the media as the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, allegedly affiliated with al-Qaeda and sentenced to 86 years in jail for the attempted murder of a US soldier in 2010. However, the authorities have yet to confirm the identity of the man.
The suspect reportedly demanded the release of his sister.
The crisis has attracted federal attention, and US President Joe Biden was said to be receiving regular updates and closely monitoring the situation.
Israel's top officials expressed concern over the hostage-taking, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Livia Link-Raviv, Israel's consul general to the Southwest, headed to the scene, according to Israel's diplomatic office in Houston.
Representatives of the local Muslim community denounced the attack as "something that you cannot comprehend". The Council on American-Islamic Relations also condemned the attack in a statement and said it has offered its help to local community leaders.
In light of the situation, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson ordered additional police patrols to be sent to protect the city's synagogues from possible attacks.
Colleyville police stated that a male captive was released unharmed shortly after 5 p.m. local time. The man was said to soon be reuniting with his family and does not need medical care.
Three hostages remained in the synagogue after the release of the first captive.
All hostages at the synagogue were released safe and without injury around 10 p.m. local time, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.
Reporters from the scene said prior to the hostage release that the sounds of an alleged explosion and gunshots were heard. The fate of the suspect is not known at this time.
*Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other states.