The rabbi that was held hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Texas on Saturday is speaking out.
The rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, and three other adults were held hostage for over ten hours after a gunman held them hostage. The gunman has since been identified as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old-old British national.
The gunman was demanding to speak to Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who was convicted of assaulting and attempting to kill U.S. officials. She is currently serving an 86-year sentence at a prison in Fort Worth, Texas. Part of the gunman’s demands was to have her released from prison.
Although the FBI has not revealed the details of how the gunman was shot and killed, the rabbi recently revealed that he put his life on the line to allow the other hostages to escape.
Rabbi Throws Chair To Distract Gunman, Allowing Hostages To Escape
In first TV interview since crisis, Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker says he and other 2 hostages were terrified in last hour of standoff as Akram “wasn’t getting what he wanted” After making sure others were ready, he told them to go, threw chair at Akram and they fled pic.twitter.com/rj9FuOTXf1
— Jacob Magid (@JacobMagid) January 17, 2022
About seven hours into the hostage situation, one male hostage was released. He was fortunately uninjured.
The hostage situation started at around 10:30 AM local time. By 9:30 PM, the rabbi noticed that the gunman’s patience was starting to run out.
In an interview with “CBS Mornings,” the rabbi revealed he knew he had to do something. He said that he and the other hostages were “terrified” because the gunman “wasn’t getting what he wanted.”
After making sure that the hostages were near the exit and ready to go, the rabbi “told them to go, [he] threw a chair at the gunman, and [he] headed for the door.”
“All three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired,” he added.
“It was terrifying,” the rabbi recalled. “It was overwhelming and we’re still processing. It’s been a lot.”
Rabbi Invited Gunman In For Tea Before He Took Them Hostage!
The gunman took the rabbi and several members of the congregation hostage during a Saturday service, which was being broadcast over Facebook and Zoom.
When the gunman first knocked on the door of the synagogue early on Saturday morning, the rabbi thought he might be a homeless man in search of shelter. He invited the man in and even made him a cup of tea!
“When I took him in, I stayed with him,” he recalled. “Making tea was an opportunity for me to talk with him. In that moment, I didn’t hear anything suspicious.”
Although the rabbi questioned the man’s story, he didn’t think more of it until the gunman revealed his true motivations during the prayer service.
“I heard a click, and it could have been anything,” he said. “And it turned out that it was his gun.”
Law Enforcement Praise Rabbi For Quick Thinking And Remaining Calm During ‘Terrifying’ Ordeal
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was held hostage last night with three congregants at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX, has released a statement through a spokesperson. pic.twitter.com/NkUCwZ49NJ
— Matthew Kassel (@matthewkassel) January 16, 2022
Although the rabbi described himself as “terrified,” officials have praised his quick thinking during the harrowing encounter.
Cytron-Walker revealed that he had previously attended different courses hosted by the FBI, the Colleyville Police Department, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Secure Communities Network.
“They really teach you in those moments that when your life is threatened, you need to do whatever you can to get to safety,” he explained. “You need to do whatever you can to get out.”
Although the hostage situation was “terrifying,” the rabbi is just thankful that none of the hostages were physically harmed.
“We were threatened the entire time,” he said. “But no, fortunately, none of us were physically injured.”
Cytron-Walker added that he had also been contacted by President Joe Biden, who offered his own praise for the rabbi’s courageous actions.
He also thanked the general public for their outpouring of support.
“I just want to give thanks and appreciation for all of the love and all of the support from the Jewish community, my people; from the Muslim community; from the Christian community; from all faiths, all backgrounds,” he said. “Friends, acquaintances, strangers all over the world. It’s truly been overwhelming.”