Texas rabbi with ties to Michigan says he and three hostages escaped synagogue standoff

‘I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door,’ said Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker

Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, strives to be a place where people belong, according to their website. So when a stranger knocked on the door, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, originally from Lansing, let him in. "I heard a click, and it could have been anything," Walker said. "It turned out that it was his gun."

LANSING, Mich.Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, strives to be a place where people belong, according to their website.

So when a stranger knocked on the door, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, originally from Lansing, let him in.

“I heard a click, and it could have been anything,” Walker said. “It turned out that it was his gun.”

Police say it was 44-year-old British National Malik Faisal Akram who entered the temple and took the Rabbi and three others hostage during a service that was being lived streamed.

“I’m going to die at the end of this, alright,” said Akram.

A prophetic statement, as Akram did die after the 11-hour standoff when the FBI Hostage Rescue team moved in.

But, what was his motive?

Former CIA Counterterrorism Official Phil Mudd said, “That’s not suicide in his mind; that’s martyrdom.”

CNN is reporting that Akram arrived legally in the U.S. from the U.K. in late Dec. He was not on a watchlist. The early belief is that he wanted to get a convicted terrorist serving an 86-year sentence in Fort Worth, Texas, released.

The member of the congregation says he also talked repeatedly about how he hated Jews.

Walker credits security courses for helping him, and the other hostages stay alive through a terrifying experience.

“I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door,” Walker said.


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.