Federal prosecutors have charged a man who allegedly sold the gun that a British citizen used to hold a group hostage inside a Texas synagogue earlier this month, officials announced Wednesday.
Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, was charged by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas on Tuesday with being a felon in possession of a firearm. His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Department of Justice alleges Williams sold Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol on Jan. 13 in a roadside deal.
Two days later, Akram used the weapon to hold four hostages inside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, between Dallas and Fort Worth.
Williams had previously been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, as well as attempted possession of a controlled substance, and was thus prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms.
"Whether or not he knew of his buyer’s nefarious intent is largely irrelevant — felons cannot have guns, period, and the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who do,” Chad Meacham, the acting US attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement.
Officials said the FBI tracked down Williams by analyzing Akram’s cellphone records.
During an interview with investigators, Williams allegedly admitted to selling Akram the handgun at an intersection in South Dallas and said the British man told him he would use it for "intimidation" to collect an outstanding debt from someone.
Instead, Akram pulled out the weapon during a service on Jan. 15 after being invited in by the rabbi, who had offered him tea on what was a cold day in North Texas.
A tense standoff ensued for several hours until the hostages escaped and Akram was shot dead by law enforcement.
President Joe Biden described the incident as an act of terrorism.
Akram was from the British town of Blackburn, north of Manchester, and had only arrived in the US on a tourist visa in late December.
Manchester police said they had arrested two men on Wednesday in connection with the investigation and were holding the pair for questioning.
This is not the first time a person has been charged with weapons offenses after another person used that gun to kill or threaten others.
Last year, Marcus Anthony Braziel, 45, was sentenced to two years in prison after he admitted to selling an AR-15 to a gunman who used it to kill seven people and wound 25 others in a 2019 shooting spree in the Texas cities of Midland and Odessa.
The case was brought by the same federal prosecutor's office in North Texas.
Last month, prosecutors in Michigan brought involuntary manslaughter charges against the parents of a teen who killed four fellow students at Oxford High School.