Washington, Jan 15 (EFE).- The hostage drama at a synagogue in Texas of the United States ended Saturday night with the release of all captives and the death of the suspect several hours into a tense standoff.
“Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a Tweet. He did not give details.
Michael Miller, the Colleyville police chief, told reporters that a hostage-rescue team entered the synagogue around 9 pm, rescued the three hostages, and the suspect was dead.
The authorities did not elaborate on how the suspect died and whether they had recovered any weapons from him.
They identified the suspect but withheld his identity pending the ongoing investigation, said special FBI agent Matt DeSarno.
He said investigators believed the suspect focused on “an issue that did not specifically threaten the Jewish community.”
The first hostage was released Saturday at 5 pm local time in good health after being held for more than six hours.
Police sources said there were at least four hostages, including a rabbi, at the beginning of the standoff.
Various US media outlets quoted US officials saying that the suspect claimed to be the brother of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, serving 86 years in prison at a military base near Colleyville in Texas.
Siddiqui was convicted nearly 12 years ago for attempted murder and armed assault on US officers in Afghanistan.
The hostage drama began during the congregation broadcast live on the Facebook page of the synagogue.
More than 8,000 people watched the live video once the hostage crisis news broke on social networks.
The law enforcement agencies quickly suspended the live broadcast.
The video did not show what was happening inside the building. But an angry man talked about religion, insisting he did not want to hurt anyone and that he was going to die, the “Star-Telegram” reported.
US President Joe Biden said he was “grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages.”
“Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, (the) four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families.”
He said there was more to learn about the motivations of the hostage-taker.
“But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”
The event prompted enhanced police protection at several synagogues and Jewish institutions in the US. EFE