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Hostages rescued safely, suspect dies in Texas synagogue standoff

FBI Special Agent In Charge Matthew DeSarno speaks at a news conference near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue.Brandon Bell/Getty

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — Police on Saturday night rescued a rabbi and several hostages who had been held by a man who claimed to have weapons and explosives at a synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, ending a tense 11-hour standoff, authorities said.

“Prayers answered,” Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said on Twitter after the standoff was over in the suburb of Colleyville. “All hostages are out alive and safe.”

Michael C. Miller, the Colleyville police chief, said at a news conference that a hostage-rescue team had entered the synagogue, and the suspect was dead.

He and other authorities declined to identify the man or say how he had died. They did not make clear whether any weapons had been recovered.


About 200 local, state and federal law enforcement officers had converged on the synagogue, including a team of FBI agents who flew from Quantico, Virginia, authorities said.

The man had taken four hostages during a morning service at Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 residents that is about 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth, authorities said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the man had demanded to see his “sister,” who may not actually be related to him and who is currently in U.S. federal custody for “terroristic events” in Afghanistan.

“The man claims he and his sister will be going to Jannah (Muslim belief of heaven) after he sees her,” the department said in a statement earlier Saturday.

The congregation had been holding a service at 10 a.m. It was being livestreamed on its Facebook page when, police said, they were called at 10:41 a.m.

On the livestream, a man could be heard shouting about dying and not liking police officers, although the context was not clear because the stream was inaudible at times. A video of the livestream did not show what was going on inside the synagogue.


The man could also be heard demanding to get his sister on the phone before the livestream stopped.

“It’s a deal,” he said at one point. “It’s a deal I had with you.”

One male hostage was released at about 5 p.m., police said. He was unharmed.

Miller said hostage negotiators had been speaking to the man throughout the day.