FORT WORTH, Texas — Authorities northeast of Fort Worth were negotiating with a man Saturday who took people hostage at a Colleyville synagogue during services.
The FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety are at the scene, CNN reported, quoting a Colleyville police sergeant who said no injuries have been reported.
The service was being livestreamed on Facebook, and the live recording, which was taken down shortly before 2 p.m., captured muffled audio of what sounded like negotiations with police.
Colleyville police said they are conducting SWAT operations in the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Road, the location of Congregation Beth Israel. FBI special agents from the Dallas field office are also at the synagogue, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
All residents in the immediate area were evacuated, and people are asked to avoid the area.
A source on the scene told ABC News that an armed suspect took a rabbi and three others hostage and claims to have bombs in unknown locations.
The source told ABC that the suspect’s sister is a known terrorist who is incarcerated at Federal Medical Center Carswell, a women’s prison in Fort Worth, and he is demanding that his sister be freed from prison. According to ABC, the hostage taker said his sister is Aafia Siddiqui, who is imprisoned on charges related to the attempted murder and assault of United States officers and employees in Afghanistan in 2008.
Aafia Siddiqui was transferred to FMC Carswell for medical reasons in 2008.
Commenters on a Facebook livestream of a service at the synagogue said a man there is holding people hostage. An angry man could be heard ranting on the livestream, at times talking about religion. The video did not show what is happening in the building.
The man has repeatedly mentioned his sister and Islam and used profanities. He was heard asking for his sister to be released from prison, ABC News reported.
At one point, another voice could be heard apparently talking on the phone to police. The man has said a few times he didn’t want anyone hurt, and he has mentioned his children.
He also said repeatedly he believes he is going to die.
It’s unclear how many people were in the synagogue. Commenters on the livestream are offering prayers for Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker. More than 8,000 viewers were watching the livestream.
Shabbat morning service began at 10 a.m. Saturday, according to the Reform Jewish congregation’s calendar.
A neighbor told the Star-Telegram she saw SWAT officers headed toward the back of the synagogue with weapons drawn about 2 p.m. as the standoff continued.
Jacy Phillips of Colleyville said her neighborhood group was alerted by Colleyville police.
“It was posted that police were evacuating some homes,” Phillips said. Her family lives just a half mile from the synagogue.
Colleyville is about 17 miles northeast of downtown Fort Worth.
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted Saturday afternoon that it “is aware of the ongoing situation in Colleyville, TX and is engaged with local and federal authorities and the community’s leaders.”
Congregation Beth Israel began in 1998 as a community Chavurah whose members had relocated to northeast Tarrant County from other areas of the country, according to its website. Congregation Beth Israel was officially established on July 18, 1999, with 25 member families and affiliation with the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, now the Union of Reform Judaism.
A new building with a 160-seat sanctuary opened in 2005. Cytron-Walker joined as rabbi in 2006. The synagogue also operates a religious school.
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff writer Emerson Clarridge contributed to this report.)
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