WASHINGTON – Rabbi, one of four Jewish congregations held captive at a Dallas-area synagogue, said on Monday that he and others managed to escape after throwing a chair at the hostage taker and then ran toward the exit door.
A ten-hour siege on Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleville, west of Dallas, Texas, ended in gunfire with all four hostages being released and members of the FBI hostage rescue team suspiciously dead entering the synagogue.
The FBI says it is “investigating the incident as a terrorism-related incident that targeted the Jewish community.” It is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The suspect, identified by the FBI as a British national, approached the synagogue during Sabbath prayers and was invited and offered tea, Rabbi Charlie Citron-Walker, who was among those held captive, told CBS told.
Citron-Walker then returned to prayer, after which he said he “heard a click – and it could have been anything – but it turned out it was his gun.”
A hostage was freed after six hours of tense talks with the help of the family of the suspect, 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram.
With two others still held captive, Citron-Walker said he had received hostage training from the FBI to determine if and when to try to escape.
“When I saw an occasion where he was not in good condition, I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me, that they were ready to go, (and that) the exit was not too far away,” Citron- Walker said.
“I told them to leave. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door, and the three of us were able to get out without even firing a shot.”
The FBI hostage rescue team then raided the synagogue, killing Akram. It is not clear whether the gunman took his own life or was killed by members of the FBI team.
Police in England say they have detained two teenagers for questioning in connection with the case.
(Reporting by Rami Job; Editing by Scott Malone and Chizu Nomiyama and Franklin Paul)