All of the hostages who were held for hours inside Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, were released and are safe, Gov. Greg Abbott said Saturday evening.
The announcement came more than five hours after one hostage, an unidentified man who was uninjured, was released, according to a police statement. He did not need medical attention.
The status of the hostage taker was not immediately clear.
The hourslong standoff outside the Dallas–Fort Worth area began Saturday morning and drew a massive police presence, including a SWAT team from Colleyville police, FBI negotiators, state public safety officers, and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
At least four people were being held hostage, potentially including the rabbi, law enforcement officials told AP. Police were called at 10:41 a.m. local time. Residents in the immediate area were evacuated, and no injuries were reported.
A livestream of the Sabbath service played on the synagogue’s Facebook page at 10 a.m. Saturday. Jessika Harkay, a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, tweeted that before the livestream stopped, a man interrupted and could be heard shouting, “What the fuck is wrong with America?” and "Don't fucking cry on me. I have 6 beautiful kids ... There are hostages in the synagogue who are going to die.”
The man reportedly demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who was convicted of attempting to kill US soldiers and FBI agents and is currently serving an 86-year sentence at a nearby federal prison. According to US intelligence, she was suspected of being associated with al-Qaeda.
Despite reports that the man was asking for the release of his “sister,” the Daily Beast reported that a lawyer who previously represented Siddiqui’s biological brother said he is not the person in the synagogue.
The FBI office in Dallas did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment.
Synagogues have been the site of multiple mass shootings in recent years, including Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh in 2017, Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego in 2019, and an attack in Halle, Germany, the same year.