A man took hostages Saturday during services at a Texas synagogue where he could be heard ranting in a livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.
At least four hostages were initially believed to be inside the synagogue, according to three law enforcement officials who were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The synagogue’s rabbi was believed to be among the hostages, one of the officials said. One of the officials said the man claimed to be armed but authorities had not confirmed whether he is.
The Colleyville Police Department released a Tweet informing that, one hostage was released uninjured shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday. The man was expected to be reunited with his family and did not require medical attention. A law enforcement official said the hostage who was released was not the rabbi.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that all hostages are safe after Saturday’s standoff inside a Dallas-area synagogue.
“Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe,” Abbott tweeted Saturday night.
Abbott’s tweet came not long after a loud bang and what sounded like gunfire was heard coming from the synagogue. Details of the rescue were not immediately clear.
Congregation Beth Israel is led by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who has been there since 2006 as the synagogue’s first full-time rabbi. He has worked to bring a sense of spirituality, compassion and learning to the community, according to his biography, and he loves welcoming everyone, including LGBT people, into the congregation.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. You know, it’s a small town and it’s a small congregation,” Eisen said. “No matter how it turns out it’s hard to fathom how we will all be changed by this, because surely we will be.”
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