A rabbi held captive at a Texas synagogue escaped with other hostages after he nailed the terrorist gunman with a chair, according to his account of the incident.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three others were held at gunpoint for hours on Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel by Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old foreign national. At around 9:15 p.m., with the synagogue surrounded by heavily armed police and FBI agents, Cytron-Walker saw an opportunity to make an escape.
In the last hour of the standoff, the gunman “wasn’t getting what he wanted. It didn’t look good, it didn’t sound good,” Cytron-Walker told CBS News. When the rabbi saw Akram “wasn’t in a good position,” he told his fellow hostages to rush for the exit.
“I told them to go, I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door,” Cytron-Walker said. “And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.”
After the hostages ran out of the synagogue, police swept the building and Akram was shot dead.
The gunman posed as a homeless man to enter the synagogue, where he was served tea by Cytron-Walker before he turned his gun on his host. Akram demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a terrorist imprisoned in Texas, in exchange for letting the hostages go. He released one of the four hostages 6 hours into the 10-hour standoff.
Police in Britain arrested Akram’s two teenage sons in the wake of the synagogue attack.
Following the attack, an FBI special agent said the agency believed it was “not specifically related to the Jewish community.” After receiving backlash for the statement, the FBI on Sunday backpedaled, calling the attack “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted.”
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