By Sharon Wisch-Ray
The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) brought the 10-hour hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville to an end Saturday night shortly after 9 p.m. Three hostages were rescued unharmed. The hostage-taker is now deceased. Earlier in the evening a fourth hostage was released unharmed.
At a news conference following the hostages’ release, Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller explained that about 60 to70 HRT officers flew in from Quantico. He commended law enforcement officers who had been on the ground all day, comprised of Colleyville police, the North Texas Regional SWAT Team, FBI, and HSI (Homeland Security Ivestigations) and the Texas Department of Public Safety among others.
Miller explained that negotiators kept the suspect engaged throughout the day.
“I’d like to think that this is a success due to the partnerships that we have with our local state and federal law enforcement partners,” Miller said. “It’s been an incredible operation. We’ve had at least 200 law enforcement personnel here pretty much all day today. We couldn’t have done it without them, and we thank them, we thank the community as well.”
Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno explained that the HRT was called with the specific intent to get the hostages out safely.
Their [HRT’s] mission is to conduct deliberate hostage rescues when necessary. In this case, we had a necessity for that. And they were successful — very proud of that.”
Desarno emphasized that the law enforcement officers that were engaged with the suspect throughout the day were instrumental to the successful release of the hostages.
“I’m also extremely proud of the team of negotiators, FBI agents and local police officers who worked all day long, engaging the subject.
Desarno said that if it weren’t for the professional negotiators, the situation would have gone “very badly, early on in the day.”
A comprehensive investigation into the motive of the subject as well as the shooting is underway. Desarno was reluctant to release additional details about the ongoing investigation.
He did say it seemed as though the subject’s motive was singular and didn’t involve a specific threat to the Jewish community beyond the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel.
Desarno added that the FBI had been in constant contact with the Secure Community Network of the Jewish Federations of North America throughout the day.