Texas synagogue hostage-taker killed by multiple gun shots
Colleyville, Texas – The gunman who held four people captive at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended with the hostages escaping and an FBI tactical team rushing in was killed by multiple gunshot wounds, according to a medical examiner, who ruled the death a homicide.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner released initial information from the autopsy of Malik Faisal Akram on Friday, six days after the 44-year-old British citizen took hostages during morning services at Congregation Beth Israel in the Dallas-area suburb of Colleyville.
In Texas, a death being ruled a homicide indicates that one person was killed by another but does not necessarily mean the killing was a crime.
Matt DeSarno, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Dallas, said at a news conference Friday that Akram’s death “was a result of the deadly force used by the FBI.”
After taking hostages Saturday, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth, but her attorney said Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.
Akram released a hostage shortly after 5 p.m. but those remaining later said he became more belligerent and threatening as the night wore on. The standoff ended around 9 p.m. after Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said he threw a chair at Akram and he and the two other remaining hostages fled.
Video of the standoff’s end from Dallas TV station WFAA showed people running out a door of the synagogue, and then a man holding a gun opening the same door just seconds later before he turned around and closed it. Moments later, several shots and then an explosion could be heard. The medical examiner determined that Akram died at 9:22 p.m.
Akram was from the English industrial city of Blackburn. His family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”
He arrived in New York on a tourist visa about two weeks before the attack on the synagogue and cleared checks against law enforcement databases without raising any red flags, officials said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack.
The FBI is still investigating how Akram got the weapon, though it has had success in tracking his movements from the time he arrived in New York on Dec. 29 until his entrance into the synagogue on Jan. 15. DeSarno said the FBI was still reviewing his devices and scrutinizing his contacts. He was not known to the FBI or U.S. intelligence communities until the hostage-taking, DeSarno said.