An armed suspect claiming to have bombs in unknown locations has taken a rabbi and three others hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News. A hostage was released unharmed around 5 p.m. local time, Colleyville police said.
At around 9:30 p.m. local time, Abbott tweeted, “Prayers have been answered. All hostages made it out safe and sound.”
All the hostages got out safe and sound.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 16, 2022
Authorities have not yet said what happened to end the hostage crisis, but said the suspect was dead.
“We believe with our engagement with the subject that it was singularly focused on one issue and not specifically related to the Jewish community,” officials said at a Saturday evening news conference, adding that they kept working to find a pattern.
President Biden also released a statement:
“Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families. I am grateful for the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages We send love and strength to members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.
We’ll learn more in the coming days about the hostage taker’s motives. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hatred: we will oppose anti-Semitism and the rise of extremism in this country. This is who we are, and tonight the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”
During the confrontation, it was unclear to what extent the hostage taker was armed. The suspect was carrying backpacks and said he had explosives. Law enforcement didn’t know if it was true but acted as if it was.
Multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News that the hostage taker was demanding the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.
Siddiqui is incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, the source said. She had alleged ties to al-Qaeda and was convicted of assault and attempted murder of a US soldier in 2010 and sentenced to 86 years in prison.
It was believed there was a suspect, the source said. The FBI responded to the scene, along with local authorities and hostage negotiators. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also responded to the situation, according to an agency spokesperson.
Law enforcement hoped to defuse the situation without doing anything that might endanger the safety of the rabbi and the other three. They ordered the suspicious food and continued to negotiate.
A White House official confirmed to ABC News that the White House is “closely monitoring” the hostage situation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden would be updated by his senior team as the situation evolves,
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has also been made aware of the situation, according to a DHS spokesperson.
The Colleyville Police Department SWAT team responded to the area by 11 a.m. Saturday and evacuated residents from the immediate area.
The Texas Department of Public Safety was also at the scene of what Abbott described as a “tense hostage situation.”
“They are working with local and federal teams to get the best and safest outcome,” Abbott said on Twitter. “I continue to monitor the situation via DPS.”
Police departments in several U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles, said Saturday they were stepping up patrols at synagogues and other places associated with the Jewish community out of an abundance of caution.
The Dallas Police Department is deploying additional patrols to city synagogues and other sites “as a precaution,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.
“Police are working with the Jewish Federation and our local, state and federal partners to monitor any concerns or threats based on the situation in Colleyville,” he added.
In Houston, the police department said it increased patrols at area synagogues on Saturday afternoon due to the situation in Colleyville.
In a tweet, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he prayed for a positive result.
Pray for a very positive outcome for all those held hostage at the Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Alongside our Jewish brothers and sisters in our very diverse community. st
—Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) January 15, 2022
ABC News’ Luke Barr contributed to this report.
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