The F.B.I.’s hostage rescue team freed four hostages from a Texas synagogue on Saturday night after a harrowing day of threats, negotiations and prayers.
The suspect is dead, officials said, and his motives are still under investigation.
Here’s what we know so far.
A man took four people, including a rabbi, hostage on Saturday morning at a service at Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 residents that is about 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth, Texas.
The service had been livestreamed, and on the stream, a man could be heard shouting about dying and demanding to get a woman he said was his sister on the phone. The immediate area was evacuated, and residents were instructed to remain home and avoid approaching the synagogue.
Over the course of the day, about 200 local, state and federal law enforcement officers converged on the synagogue, including a team of F.B.I. agents and hostage negotiators who flew from Quantico, Va., the authorities said. One male hostage was released at about 5 p.m., the police said. He was unharmed.
By around 9:30 p.m. local time, the hostage rescue team freed the remaining hostages from the synagogue safely. They were unharmed and did not need medical attention, the authorities said.
Officials said negotiators had been speaking with the man throughout the day.
“It’s very likely this situation would have ended very badly early on in the day had we not had professional, consistent negotiation with the subject,” said Matthew DeSarno, the special agent in charge for the F.B.I. field office in Dallas, at a news conference on Saturday night.
Who is the suspect?
The suspect is dead, the police said. The authorities said they had identified the suspect but were not releasing his name to the public.
What was his motivation?
The Texas Department of Public Safety said the man had demanded to see his “sister,” who may not actually be related to him and who is currently in U.S. federal custody for “terroristic events” in Afghanistan.
“The man claims he and his sister will be going to Jannah (Muslim belief of heaven) after he sees her,” the department said in a statement on Saturday before the rescue.
Is the scene clear now?
Authorities said the area in and around the synagogue was still an active crime scene.
Though the situation had been resolved, the police chief said that an F.B.I. evidence team and bomb technicians would be sweeping the area.
“I do not have any information right now that indicates that this is part of any kind of ongoing threat,” Mr. DeSarno said, adding: “We’ll continue to investigate the hostage taker. We’ll continue to investigate his contacts. Our investigation will have global reach.”
He said that his staff had contacted the authorities in other countries.
Who were the hostages?
The four hostages were all adults, according to the police chief, though he did not specify their ages.
At a news conference on Saturday night, the authorities said the hostages were being interviewed by the F.B.I. One of them was the synagogue’s rabbi. The lead rabbi of the synagogue, Charlie Cytron-Walker, was described as a unifying presence who had worked to improve interfaith relations.
“I am thankful and filled with appreciation for all of the vigils and prayers and love and support, all of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us, all of the security training that helped save us,” he said in a Facebook post on Sunday morning.
He added: “I am grateful that we made it out. I am grateful to be alive.”
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