An 11-hour hostage taking in Colleyville, Texas ended with the captives staying alive and being set free on Saturday.
The Catholic News Agency reported that the Congregation Beth Israel, a Jewish synagogue in Dallas-Fort Worth area, was taken hostage by a man during a worship service that was livestreamed in Facebook. The man took in four hostages that included Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation shot the man, Malik Faisal Akram, during which "a loud bang followed by a short blast of rapid gunfire was heard" at 9:30p.m. in the synagogue and ended the ordeal. CNA highlighted that this was the "answered prayer" of the many people who prayed for the captives to be set free such as Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson who "made an urgent request" for prayers in his Twitter account for the captives while the hostage taking was ongoing.
"Please pray for the safety of the hostages, their families, this congregation, for the members of law enforcement, and for the peaceful surrender of the perpetrator(s) of this crime," Olson said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been announcing the status of the hostage taking in his social media account. Abbott stressed the power of prayer with the captives being released one by one.
"Prayers are being answered. One of the hostages in the synagogue has been released uninjured. 3 more to go. I talked with the Colleyville Mayor and offered the full assistance of the State of Texas," Abbott announced on Saturday.
"Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe," he said in a succeeding post.
The hostage taker, who is said to have a "British accent," is tagged as a "terrorist" for being the brother of Pakistani woman Aafia Siddiqui that is currently imprisoned in Forth Worth for charges of attempted homicide against FBI agents and U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Cytron-Walker, who expressed gratitude in Facebook for his freedom, revealed in an interview with CBS Mornings that he let Akram in the Synagogue thinking he needed shelter. He even made Akram a cup of tea after letting him in so he could "talk with him." During which, he said he "didn't hear anything suspicious" and only did so when the worship services were ongoing.
"It was during prayer--while we're praying--and my back was turned. We face toward Jerusalem while we pray. Right before he revealed himself... I heard a click. And it could have been anything, and it turned out it was his gun," Cytron-Walker said.
Jeffrey Cohen, one of the hostages, revealed that Akram demanded Siddiqui to be released. Cohen said the moment he heard Akram's "automatic" he called 911 and put his phone face down before he followed his orders for the hostages. Akram became agitated when a police officer came to the synagogue. Almost 200 police officers responded to Cohen's 911 call. Cytron-Walker said they eventually escaped by throwing Akram a chair.
The Congregation Beth Israel expressed appreciation for the safe release of Cytron-walker and the rest of the hostages through a Facebook post on Sunday. They also held a special service on Monday to put a closure on the terrifying incident.
"On behalf of the Board of Trustees at Congregation Beth Israel, we would like to offer our sincere appreciation to the entire Community for their continued support. We appreciate your overall concern and we are grateful to all law enforcement officials led by Chief Miller of the Colleyville Police Department and Special Agent Matthew DeSarno of the FBI, who help to return Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and our other CBI Members to their respective families. We ask that you continue to keep them in your prayers," the Congregation Beth Israel said.
"We are strong. We are resilient. The time to heal our community has begun. On Monday, January 17th, Congregation Beth Israel will host a special service to help all of us to begin to put this terrible event behind us and be thankful for a good result," they added.