All the people taken hostage on at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, were released safely, US Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.
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.
A US law enforcement official said the man who held hostages inside Texas synagogue is dead.
Earlier one of several hostages being held at a synagogue in the Dallas-area was released,.
Special forces were negotiating with a man who has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, during services on Saturday that were being streamed live, according to media reports.
The Colleyville Police Department tweeted on Saturday afternoon that it was conducting SWAT operations at the address of Congregation Beth Israel, northeast of Fort Worth.
Hostage taking motivation
At least four hostages were believed to be inside the synagogue, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorised 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 them, one of the officials said.
Authorities are still trying to understand the precise motive for the attack. But some US officials say the hostage taker is demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist, Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan.
The law enforcement officials said investigators have not positively identified the man and cautioned that the information was based on a preliminary investigation as the situation was still rapidly developing.
FBI Dallas spokeswoman Katie Chaumont said an FBI SWAT team was also at the scene and that crisis negotiators had been communicating with someone inside the synagogue. But she could not say whether the person was armed and she declined to describe what the person had said to authorities, citing operational sensitivity.
Colleyville, a community of about 26,000 people, is about 15 miles (23 kilometers) northeast of Fort Worth.
Jawaid Alam, president of the Islamic Center of Southlake, told local the Star-Telegram, that the Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is a personal friend and a friend of the Muslim community who has promoted peace and cooperation across faiths.
“He is a peace loving person, a Rabbi and Jewish leader, but a true friend of the Muslim community,” Alam said. “He and his family are considered part of the Muslim community, and he considers us part of the Jewish community.”
Alam said it is “unthinkable that this would happen at the synagogue of a peace-loving Rabbi who has promoted interfaith talks.”
Cytron-Walker has been a teacher to the Muslim community in the region, not just to his Jewish congregation, he said.
“He has taught us how to live with people different from you and love each other,” Alam said.
The president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, said on Twitter the union was "very grateful to law enforcement who are working to free the hostages."
"We deeply appreciate the outpouring of love and support for our congregation in Colleyville, Texas," he said.
US President Joe Biden was briefed on a crisis at a Texas synagogue, the White House said.
Biden "has been briefed about the developing hostage situation in the Dallas area," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter.
"Senior members of the national security team are also in touch with federal law enforcement leadership."
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was monitoring the situation closely. “We pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers,” he wrote on Twitter.
Israel’s consul general in Houston is on her way to the scene of the incident, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement, adding that Israeli officials “are in close contact with American law enforcement agencies.”