Rabbi Ended 11-Hour Hostage Situation at Texas Synagogue by Throwing Chair at Gunman
A Texas rabbi held during a nearly 11-hour standoff at a Fort Worth-area synagogue is being credited with saving the lives of the three other hostages.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told CBS Mornings that when a stranger knocked on the door of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville Saturday morning, he assumed he needed shelter from the cold weather. Cytron-Walker invited him in and even made him tea. It wasn't until prayer service that the man's sinister intentions became clear.
"I heard a click, and it could have been anything. And it turned out that it was his gun," he recalled.
The man, later identified as Malik Faisal Akram, took Cytron-Walker and three of his congregants hostage in an incident authorities are calling an "act of terrorism" and an "act of antisemitism."
Ten hours into the unthinkable, the situation had reached a boiling point.
"In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening," Cytron-Walker told CNN. That's when he decided to act.
The rabbi told CBS Mornings that first he made sure the other hostages were close to an exit and ready to run. Then he handed Akram a drink.
"I told them to go, I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door," he recalled. "And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired."
All four hostages escaped physically unharmed. Akram was killed.
Cytron-Walker credits his life-saving actions to active shooter training he and his congregation received in response to a recent increase in attacks on Jewish people in the U.S.
"Over the years, my congregation and I have participated in multiple security courses from the Colleyville Police Department, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, and Secure Community Network," he told CNN. "We are alive today because of that education."
The case is currently being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
"I want people to understand, it doesn't matter if you are in a synagogue, if you're Jewish, if you're Muslim, if you're Christian, if you're religious at all, it can happen in a shopping mall," Cytron-Walker told CNN. "Unfortunately, this is the world that we're living in."