Texas synagogue hostage situation sparks reaction from public officials

A man took four people hostage inside a North Texas synagogue Saturday, a situation that sparked state, national and international reactions.

The Colleyville Police Department (CPD) shared on Twitter Saturday afternoon that SWAT operations were being conducted at the address of Congregation Beth Israel in the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Road. The AP reports that at least four hostages were believed to be inside the synagogue, one of them the synagogue's rabbi, according to two law enforcement officials.

CPD confirmed Saturday night that the suspect is now deceased and all the hostages were released safely. The suspect has not yet been identified by law enforcement.

This situation has garnered national and international attention, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett taking to Twitter to say he is monitoring and praying for the hostages and rescuers.

U.S. Rep Mark Veasey (D-Fort Worth) shared on Twitter that he "[knows] the Rabbi and his wife Adena very well" and is also monitoring the situation unfolding. Veasey's district in North Texas is just south of Colleyville.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared that President Joe Biden is aware of what's happening in Colleyville and that "senior members of the national security team are also in touch with federal law enforcement leadership."

Both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris released statements after all the hostages were safely rescued, and the suspect had died. Both the president and vice president stated they would stand against anti-Semitism.

Biden said he is "grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages" in his statement:

"Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families. I am grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages. We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.

There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud."

Harris also thanked law enforcement in her statement:

"This morning, we are grateful that four people held hostage in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas are safe and going home to their families. We thank the brave men and women in federal, state, and local law enforcement, and we stand in solidarity with the Congregation Beth Israel community and the entire Jewish community. While we will learn more about the hostage taker’s motivation, we know this: what happened yesterday at Congregation Beth Israel is a reminder that we must speak up and combat antisemitism and hate wherever it exists. Everyone has a right to pray, work, study, and spend time with loved ones not as the other – but as us."

According to the director of public affairs for the Department of Justice, US Attorney General Merrick Garland has also been briefed on the ongoing situation in Colleyville.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Saturday that he has also been briefed on the situation by the Department of Homeland Security Secretary.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also says he and his wife Heidi are "praying for those at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and for the SWAT team and all other law enforcement on the scene responding". 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also weighed in on the situation, saying that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is at the scene and working with local and federal teams and that he is monitoring the situation through DPS. Abbott later sent out a statement, saying:

"The Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville. The State of Texas is ready to provide additional assistance as requested and we will continue to monitor the situation. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me as we pray for the safety of the congregants."

Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is running for Texas governor against Abbott, said on Twitter he is "sending strength to Colleyville as another Texas community is tragically targeted by a gunman" and also asked those in the area to "heed the warnings of local officials and avoid the vicinity". 

The hostage situation is also sparking precautionary measures in other cities. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) tweeted that the department is working with federal partners and is increasing patrols around synagogues in LA.

FOX 4 Dallas and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Colleyville SWAT operation: People asked to avoid area near Congregation Beth Israel
Man takes hostages at North Texas synagogue, authorities say
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