Morning Briefing Jan. 16, 2022: Michigan native among those who were held hostage at Texas synagogue

Here are this morning’s top stories

The rabbi involved in a hostage situation at a Texas synagogue has strong ties to Michigan.

Michigan native among those who were held hostage at Texas synagogue

One of the people who had been taken hostage Saturday at a Texas synagogue is originally from Lansing, Mich.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is a graduate of the University of Michigan. He spent time working at Focus: Hope in Detroit. His colleagues in Michigan were closely watching what unfolded Saturday in Texas. The Associated Press reported a man took over services at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas where he could be heard ranting on a livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.

One hostage held Saturday at was released during the standoff; three others got out about 9 p.m. when an FBI SWAT team entered the building, authorities said. The hostage taker was killed and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate “the shooting incident.” The four who were taken hostage, including Cytron-Walker, were reportedly safe.

Athena Miller worked alongside Rabbi Cytron-Walker for many years.

“He just loved helping people. His heart was where it was all of the time. No matter what the situation was, he was always wanting to go the extra mile to help people,” said Miller.

Read more here.

University of Michigan Board votes to remove Dr. Mark Schlissel as president after probe

The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to remove Dr. Mark Schlissel as president, effective immediately, following an investigation into possible misconduct.

The Board released this statement on Saturday night:

It is with great disappointment that we announce that the University of Michigan Board of Regents has removed Dr. Mark Schlissel as President of the University of Michigan, effective immediately. The Board has named former U-M president Mary Sue Coleman as Interim President and we have full confidence that she will provide the leadership our University community needs during this critical time of transition. The Board will affirm these actions during its Feb. 17 formal session.

On Dec. 8, 2021, via an anonymous complaint, we learned that Dr. Schlissel may have been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a University employee. After an investigation, we learned that Dr. Schlissel, over a period of years, used his University email account to communicate with that subordinate in a manner inconsistent with the dignity and reputation of the University.

In the interest of full public disclosure, we have released dozens of Dr. Schlissel’s communications that illustrate this inappropriate conduct, as well as the letter that we sent to Dr. Schlissel explaining our decision. All this information is available on the University’s website.

Read more here.

Coming up on Flashpoint: Michigan medical chief discusses omicron surge; fight over voting rights

‘Bob’s impact was tremendous’: Community mourns loss of master police K-9 trainer

2-year-old girl killed in fire at apartment along Plymouth Road in Detroit

A 2-year-old little girl was killed in a fire Saturday at an apartment at Plymouth Road and Coyle Street on Detroit’s west side.

Fire investigators believe an adult was home but may have left before the girl could make it out of the burning apartment. At about 9 p.m., 911 calls started piling up about the apartment fire.

Detroit firefighters got there fast and were told a 2-year-old girl was trapped inside. A firefighter from the very first truck that showed up ran in, grabbed the girl, and ran back out. She was taken to Children’s Hospital but did not make it.

Full story.

Weather forecast: Frigid temps, clear skies

Here is the weather forecast for Metro Detroit. For more:

Check out the “Environmentally Speaking” art exhibit in West Bloomfield today:

You can view the "Environmentally Speaking" art exhibit at Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield.

For more Forecasting Change segments:

COVID in Michigan 🦠

Michigan reported 37,114 new cases of COVID-19 and 251 virus-related deaths Friday -- an average of 18,557 cases over a two-day period.

Friday’s update brings the total number of confirmed COVID cases in Michigan to 1,746,707, including 28,479 deaths. These numbers are up from 1,709,593 cases and 28,228 deaths, as of Wednesday. The deaths announced Friday include 140 identified during a Vital Records review.

The next update won’t be until next Wednesday (Jan. 19) because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday, Jan. 17.

Read the latest COVID report here.