Man charged with selling gun to Texas hostage-taker

Southwest

Police stand in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. A man held hostages for more than 10 hours Saturday inside the temple. The hostages were able to escape and the hostage taker was killed. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate “the shooting incident.” (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (NewsNation Now) — The Justice Department has filed charges against a man accused of selling a gun to the suspect who held hostages in a Texas synagogue, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham announced Thursday.

Henry “Michael” Williams, a 32-year-old from Texas, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Authorities say he sold the weapon British citizen Malik Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Jan.15 and took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

The 10-hour standoff ended in Akram’s death. All four hostages were unharmed.

The FBI has called the incident a “terroism-related matter” targeting the Jewish community.

“The Dallas FBI Field Office and our partners have worked around the clock since Jan. 15, 2022, to determine how Malik Faisal Akram acquired the weapon he used to terrorize worshipers at Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel synagogue,” Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said in a statement. “Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we pledge to continue our efforts to protect our communities from violence.”

As part of its investigation, the FBI tied Williams to Akram with cellphone records that show the pair exchanged calls from Jan. 11 through Jan. 13. These cellphone records showed that the two men’s phones were in close proximity on the 13th.

When Williams was first interviewed on Jan. 16, the suspect recalled meeting a man with a British accent, but could not remember the man’s name. After agents interviewed Williams again, the defendant confirmed he sold Akram the handgun.

Williams, a news release from the Justice Department said, allegedly admitted to officers that Akram told him the gun was going to be used for “intimidation” to get money from someone who owed an outstanding debt.

The release said the gun used in the standoff was a semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol.

On Jan. 20, British police detained two men in the cities of Birmingham and Manchester for questioning as part of the same investigation, but the AP reported that the men were released with no further action. Two British teenagers who had also been detained by police were also released without charges.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker has previously called the standoff situation traumatic but said prior security training at his suburban Fort Worth congregation allowed him and the other three hostages to make it through the 10-hour ordeal.

“In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening,” Cytron-Walker said in a statement.

During the hostage situation, Akram could be heard ranting on a Facebook livestream of the services demanding the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.

“Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself,” Cytron-Walker said.

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