All Hostages at Texas Synagogue Freed in SWAT Team Rescue Op
A gunman who took four hostages during Shabbat services at a Texas synagogue on Saturday morning is dead and all the hostages are free following a SWAT team operation, local police said.
The 11-hour standoff took place at Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform Jewish shul located in Colleyville, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“The SWAT situation in Colleyville is resolved and all hostages are safe,” a Colleyville Police Department statement said.
Update at 9:55pm: The SWAT situation in Colleyville is resolved and all hostages are safe. We continue to work in partnership with the FBI to finalize all details. We will be addressing the media staging area at Good Shepherd Catholic Church at 10:15pm with an update.
— Colleyville Police (@ColleyvillePD) January 16, 2022
“Prayers answered,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted. “All hostages are out alive and safe.”
Authorities have yet to identify the hostage-taker or say how he died.
During negotiations with police, the man reportedly demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted Islamist terrorist jailed at a federal prison in Fort Worth.
The four hostages included the congregation’s Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker. One of the hostages was released several hours before the SWAT team rescue mission that freed the other three.
U.S. President Joe Biden stated, “Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families. I am grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages. We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.”
“There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate — we will stand against antisemitism and against the rise of extremism in this country,” President Biden added. “That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”
Following the hostage incident in Texas, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) is calling on U.S. law enforcement officials and leaders to provide greater security for synagogues and Jewish institutions across the country.
“Our thoughts and prayers are sent to those who suffered through the attack, and we stand in solidarity with the Texas Jewish community as a whole,” CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa said. “We would also like to express our gratitude to the police and other law enforcement agencies for their roles in ensuring that none of the hostages were harmed.”
“The attack on a synagogue during Saturday morning service, usually the best attended time of the week for Jewish worshipers, is clearly an attack on Jews and requires concerted action from U.S. law enforcement officials and political leaders,” Roytman Dratwa emphasized. “There can be no compromise on this issue, Jews and Jewish institutions require better security and protection.”
The Secure Community Network (SCN) — the umbrella organization responsible for coordinating security at Jewish institutions across the United States — said on Saturday, “There is no information to suggest there is a broader threat to the Jewish community at this time as it relates to this incident. SCN will continue to monitor the situation and provide any updates as necessary.”
SCN has learned from law enforcement sources that the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville has ended. The perpetrator has been neutralized and the remaining hostages have been released. No further information is available at this time.
— Secure Community Network (@Official_SCN) January 16, 2022
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas said, “Many individuals and organizations reached out to extend prayers for those involved and to express support for the DFW Jewish community during this more than 10 hour ordeal. We are grateful to all, and especially for law enforcement and the first responders on the scene who worked so diligently today and always to keep our community safe.”
Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rick Jacobs tweeted, “The hostages are free! The day began in prayer w/ Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and his congregation & now it has ended with prayers of gratitude to God & to all who helped liberate the hostages! All day we felt the deep solidarity of our Jewish community & our interfaith partners.”
The hostages are free! The day began in prayer w/ Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and his congregation & now it has ended with prayers of gratitude to God & to all who helped liberate the hostages! All day we felt the deep solidarity of our Jewish community & our interfaith partners. https://t.co/KtEXmBv8Q9
— Rabbi Rick Jacobs (@URJPresident) January 16, 2022