TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — It's been nearly a week since a man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville. Federal authorities on Friday gave an update on the investigation, saying that it's being treated as an "act of terrorism" and "federal hate crime."
The hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday, Jan. 15, lasted nearly 12 hours before it ended shortly before 10 p.m. with all three of the remaining hostages making it out safe. A fourth hostage had been released hours before authorities said a rescue team breached the synagogue.
The suspect, who died at the scene, was identified a day later as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, a British citizen. He was originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire, according to British authorities.
During a news conference Friday, Matthew DeSarno of the FBI's Dallas field office said investigators believe Akram targeted the synagogue in an "act of terrorism." The case is also being investigated as a hate crime.
"The FBI is and has been treating Saturday's event as an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community," DeSarno said.
"Before Malik Faisal Akram ever made a single demand to law enforcement, he committed a felony when he forcibly kidnapped four hostages while they exercised their right to worship at Congregation Beth Israel. This is a federal hate crime," DeSarno added.
DeSarno also confirmed that during the situation Akram "repeatedly demanded" the release of a convicted terrorist. That person was reportedly identified as Aafia Siddiqui, who is imprisoned at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth on charges of trying to kill American service members in Afghanistan.
"[Akram's] actions clearly met the definition of terrorism," DeSarno said.
Investigators believe Akram chose Congregation Beth Israel due to its proximity to FMC Carswell, according to DeSarno.
DeSarno also went into further details of the final moments of the hostage situation. He said toward the end of the incident Akram became "combative" and "issued ultimatums and deadlines."
DeSarno said as the FBI's hostage rescue team was making entry through the synagogue's south and west sides, an FBI Dallas SWAT team made contact with the three remaining hostages who were running through a northeastern exit.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the hostages, said earlier this week that he threw a chair toward Akram and that the three hostages bolted toward the exit.
The FBI then used "deadly force" on Akram, but further details were not released. On Friday, Akram's cause of death was confirmed by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was killed by multiple gunshot wounds at 9:22 p.m. Saturday during the incident. His manner of death was ruled a homicide.
The investigation led to arrests in the United Kingdom. British authorities arrested two men Thursday morning in Birmingham and Manchester in connection to the hostage situation. Further details on their possible connection were not immediately released.
DeSarno also added on Friday that the FBI Dallas office has identified all people in the North Texas area who Akram had contact with prior to the incident, but he did not reveal anymore details as the investigation continues.
There have, so far, been no arrests or detainments by law enforcement in the North Texas area.
Watch the full press conference below: