Police received a 911 call at 10:41 AM local time. The Saturday service was being livestreamed through Zoom and Facebook when people heard shouting and reported it to police. It was then that the suspect took four people hostage inside the building.
Colleyville police worked with the FBI negotiators to try to free the hostages throughout Saturday afternoon and into the night. A rabbi was believed to be one of the four people being held hostage inside the building. The ages and identities of the hostages have yet to be disclosed, but it was said that they were all adults.
Around 6 PM ET, one male hostage was released. According to Sergeant Dara Nelson, the man was uninjured, and added that “FBI Crisis Negotiators continue contact with the subject.”
Over three hours later, a loud bang was heard, followed by a short round of gunfire, which could be heard up to a third of a mile away from the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue, where the hostages were being held.
A few minutes later, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a simple tweet around 10:33 PM ET, writing, “Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe.”
All hostages are out alive and safe.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 16, 2022
Hostages Rescued, Suspect Is Deceased Says Colleyville Police Chief
Update at 9:55pm: The SWAT situation in Colleyville is resolved and all hostages are safe. We continue to work in partnership with the FBI to finalize all details. We will be addressing the media staging area at Good Shepherd Catholic Church at 10:15pm with an update.
— Colleyville Police (@ColleyvillePD) January 16, 2022
Shortly after the Governor’s tweet, Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller spoke at a press conference to address the situation.
“Around 9 PM, the HRT – hostage rescue team – breached the synagogue,” he said. “They rescued the three hostages. The suspect is deceased.”
Although authorities have identified the suspect, they have chosen not to publicly disclose his identity at this time, according to Matt DeSarno, a special agent at FBI Dallas.
Although the hostages were rescued, the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue is still considered an active crime scene, according to Police Chief Miller. Bomb technicians are currently reviewing the area to make sure it is safe.
The FBI Bomb Techs are going to be disposing of some ordinances on the scene at Congregation Beth Israel. There may be some loud noises in the next few minutes. There is no need for concern. #Colleyville
— Colleyville Police (@ColleyvillePD) January 16, 2022
President Joe Biden released an official statement from the White House, saying, “We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.”
“There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage-taker,” he continued. “But 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. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”
What Was The Motive Behind The Attack?
Per Aafia Siddiqui herself, she DOES NOT WANT THIS.
— A Jew named JE Reich screaming BLACK LIVES MATTER (@jereichwrites) January 16, 2022
At the press conference, DeSarno added that officials are still investigating a possible motive, but said that “He was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.”
Earlier on Saturday, it was believed that the suspect might have been trying to free Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence at a facility in Texas after being convicted of trying to kill Americans overseas in 2010. A jury found her guilty of attempted murder of U.S. government officials and assault against U.S. officers.
Earlier reports from ABC indicated that the primary suspect might have been Siddiqui’s brother. This has not been confirmed at this time.
Deleted this as it’s now being confirmed by local community members – going against what’s being reported in some news reports – that it is NOT in fact Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, who has held hostages at a Dallas synagogue. Sharing image for transparency. pic.twitter.com/FqxDozq1xC
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) January 15, 2022
Although Siddiqui was a Pakistani scientist, she had attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a doctorate from Brandeis University. In 2008, she was taken into custody by Afghan National Police after they found handwritten notes and a list of potential targets of a “mass casualty attack.”
When she was about to be questioned by Americans, she grab the firearm of a U.S. soldier and opened fire on the interrogation team. Fortunately, no one was injured. According to court records, one man testified that she was a “vision of hatred.”
Although her defense team argued that she was incompetent to stand trial, Siddiqui made headlines for openly rejecting the advice of her defense team. At her sentencing, she told the judge, “If anybody thinks that it is my paranoia or whatever, I’m not paranoid. I’m not mentally sick. I do not agree with that.”
Shortly after her conviction, a group named the Aafia Foundation started frequent protests in an attempt to free her. Her family has also spoken out, insisting that she is not a terrorist.
This is also not the first time that a hostage situation has happened in Siddiqui’s name. In 2013, there was a deadly hostage situation in Algeria by a military group that would only release hostages if Siddiqui was released from prison.
Although it has yet to be confirmed if Siddiqui played a factor in this current situation, patrols have stepped up around the country to safeguard “key Jewish locations.” Newly appointed New York City Mayor Eric Adams tweeted, “We are closely monitoring the hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas and we’re praying for a peaceful and safe conclusion. Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD has deployed additional resources to key Jewish locations around the city tonight.”
We are closely monitoring the hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas and we’re praying for a peaceful and safe conclusion.
Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD has deployed additional resources to key Jewish locations around the city tonight.
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) January 16, 2022