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All hostages rescued, suspect dead after Colleyville synagogue standoff

An officer is shown standing in front of a police vehicle.
Tony Gutierrez/AP
Law enforcement officials block Pleasant Run Road near Congregation Beth Israel synagogue where a man took hostages during services on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Officials say there is no indication of any ongoing threat to the community.

The man who held people hostage at a Colleyville synagogue Saturday is dead following an hours-long standoff, authorities said. All hostages are safe and do not require medical attention.

Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller says Saturday's operation was “a success” thanks to partnerships with local, state and federal agencies. He says at least 200 law enforcement personnel were on the scene.

Police were alerted Saturday morning that a gunman had entered Congregation Beth Israel
and taken four people hostage, including the rabbi. Officials have not released the man's identity.

There is no indication of an ongoing threat, and investigators continue to look into the motive behind the day's events, said Matthew DeSarno, the special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas field office, who spoke at a press conference Saturday night.

Officials say the hostage taker was not focused on the Jewish community.

DeSarno said there was no immediate indication that the man had connections to any broader plan but that the agency’s investigation “will have global reach."

A law enforcement official earlier told the Associated Press that the hostage-taker demanded the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shared news that the hostages were safe from his personal Twitter account around 9:30 Saturday night, just minutes after loud bangs were reported at the scene.

One hostage was released uninjured earlier during the standoff, just after 5 p.m., while negotiations continued with the hostage taker.

Law enforcement conducted SWAT operations starting Saturday morning. Colleyville police spent the day asking residents to avoid the area near the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Road, the address of Congregation Beth Israel.

A Shabbat service was scheduled at Congregation Beth Israel at 10 a.m. A Facebook livestream of the service ended just before 2 p.m. The stream did not feature people on screen, but a man could be heard, speaking loudly and angrily at times. Thousands of people — who had heard about the situation via media reports online — were watching the Facebook stream. They wrote in with comments of concern and hopes that the situation would resolve peacefully.

The Dallas Police Department was deploying additional patrols to Dallas synagogues and other sites, Mayor Eric Johnson said.

“Police are working with the Jewish Federation and our local, state, and federal partners to monitor any concerns or threats based on the situation in Colleyville,” Johnson said on Twitter.

President Biden was briefed about the situation in Colleyville, and said in a statement that he is "grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages."

"Let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate — we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country," Biden said.

Shahzad Nahmud, former vice president of the Islamic Center of Southlake, spoke to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel.

"He's somebody who has been trying for several years to bring all the faiths together," Nahmud said. "He has been instrumental in bringing the Jewish community, the Muslim [community], the Christian community together."

Nahmud said Cytron-Walker has long promoted respect among diverse North Texas communities, and he prayed that all hostages are safely reunited with their loved ones.

Members of Faith Forward Dallas, a coalition of clergy of various faiths, issued a statement Saturday, saying they pray for a peaceful resolution.

“As people of faith, we condemn this action and will support one another, regardless of faith traditions, to ensure that such hatred has no place in our communities or our world,” the statement said.

This is a developing story, which includes material from the Associated Press. Latest update: 11:40 p.m. Jan. 15.

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