COLLEYVILLE, Texas (Reuters) ?? Authorities are negotiating with a man who allegedly took people hostage in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, during services on Saturday that were streamed live, according to media reports.
FBI agents negotiated with the gunman, CNN reported. The FBI did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters.
The Colleyville Police Department previously wrote on Twitter that it is conducting SWAT operations on the block where the Beth Israel Congregation is located, saying all residents in the immediate area were evacuated.
No injuries were reported inside the building in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.
Colleyville Police Sergeant Dara Nelson said dealers have contacted anyone inside the synagogue who they believe is a suspect, ?? said the Dallas Morning News.
The man could be heard having a one-sided conversation in what appeared to be a phone call during a livestream of the Reform Jewish synagogue’s Sabbath service. The livestream stopped around noon. 15 EST.
Before the Facebook livestream ended, one could hear a man arguing and talking about religion and his sister, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The man could be heard repeatedly saying he did not want to see anyone get hurt and that he believes he should die, the newspaper said.
Barry Klompus, 63, a member of the congregation since it opened in 1999, said he was made aware of the situation by another member and quickly turned to the live feed until it was cut off.
?? It was awful to listen and watch, and it’s so much more awful not to know, ?? said Mr. Klompus in a telephone interview. Although he could not clearly understand what the man wanted, Mr. Klompus believes the man would talk to his sister.
A US official informed the case told ABC News that the hostage-taker claims to be the brother of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in the US after his 2010 verdict for shooting at soldiers and FBI agents and demanding that she will be released.
Authorities have not yet confirmed his identity, the official told ABC News. Siddiqui is being held in a federal prison in the Fort Worth area.
The president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, said on Twitter that the union was “very grateful to the law enforcement agencies working to free the hostages.”
We greatly appreciate the outpouring of love and support for our congregation in Colleyville, Texas, ?? he said. Sir. Klompus said he was not aware of any significant past threats against the congregation.
We do not have a security officer employed, but we have what I would say is a very good relationship with the local police, ?? he said.
Image: An armored police vehicle is seen in the area where a man allegedly took people hostage at a synagogue during services streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, January 15, 2022. Reuters / Shelby Tauber