Rabbi At Texas Synagogue Made Hostage Taker A Cup Of Tea, Threw Chair At Gunman

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A Texas rabbi who was held hostage in his synagogue with members of his congregation on Saturday told “CBS Mornings” how he handled the perilous situation.

“It was terrifying. It was overwhelming. We’re still processing,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said of the hostage crisis on “CBS Mornings” on Monday.

The hostage taker, identified as Malik Faisal Akram, 44, knocked on the door of the synagogue and was let in by Cytron-Walker, who thought he might need shelter, CBS reported. The rabbi then fixed him a cup of tea and started to talk with him.

“When I took him in, I stayed with him. Making tea was an opportunity for me to talk with him, and in that moment, I didn’t hear anything suspicious,” Cytron-Walker said. “Some of his story didn’t quite add up, so I was a little bit curious, but that’s not necessarily an uncommon thing.”

Cytron-Walker described how during prayer, when his back was turned to Akram, he heard a “click” which turned out to be a gun. He said the congregation had taken courses with local and federal law enforcement to prepare for incidents involving guns.

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“We were threatened the entire time, but … fortunately, none of us were physically injured,” the rabbi said, but  he noted that in the last hour “it didn’t look good, it didn’t sound good. We were terrified.” Cytron-Walker said the instructions he received taught him that he needed to do whatever it took to get to safety.

“When I saw an opportunity where he wasn’t in a good position … I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me, that they were ready to go,” Cytron-Walker recalled. “The exit wasn’t too far away. I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.”

Akram was killed Saturday after the hostages ran out of the synagogue, the Associated Press reported. He reportedly ranted on a Facebook livestream intended to show the synagogue’s Shabbat service, demanding that Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86-year sentence in prison for attempting to kill U.S. Army officers and others in Afghanistan, be released.

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