Medical examiner confirms Colleyville synagogue hostage-taker’s cause of death

·3 min read

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed the cause and manner of death of the Colleyville synagogue hostage-taker, Malik Faisal Akram.

Akram, a 44-year-old British national, was killed by multiple gunshots around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. His death was ruled a homicide, according to the medical examiner.

Akram was killed after a nearly 11-hour standoff inside Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue about 17 miles north of Fort Worth, where he took four people, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and Jeffrey Cohen, hostage.

Audio: Colleyville hostage-taker told brother: ‘I’m opening the door ... to enter America’

The other two hostages have not been publicly identified.

Toward the end of the stand-off, Cytron-Walker threw a chair at Akram, as the hostages ran toward an exit door.

Shortly after their escape, dozens of agents in tactical gear surrounded the synagogue. Four gunshots were heard in the building, along with an explosion, more gunshots and officers’ shouts.

Malik Faisal Akram is seen checking in to OurCalling in Dallas the night of Jan. 2 when the center opened its door for emergency shelter in inclement weather.
Malik Faisal Akram is seen checking in to OurCalling in Dallas the night of Jan. 2 when the center opened its door for emergency shelter in inclement weather.

A senior law enforcement official confirmed to NBC News on Monday that Akram was shot by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. It’s unknown whether there was an exchange of gunfire between Akram and the FBI or how many shots were fired, but the official told NBC that the use of force was warranted.

Details surrounding how Akram was able to travel internationally, despite being on a British watch list in 2020, and how he was able to obtain a gun in Texas, remain vague.

The Department of Homeland Security told McClatchy that Akram entered the United States under the visa waiver program, “a longstanding travel security program that permits certain citizens or nationals of 40 partner countries to travel to the United States for business and tourism purposes without a visa for up to 90 days.”

“As part of the process that applies routinely to every individual who travels to the United States under the VWP, the individual was vetted through several federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ databases at various stages,” the Department of Homeland Security said. “No derogatory information associated with this individual was found prior to his travel to the United States or upon his arrival at the U.S. Port of Entry.”

Regarding Akram obtaining a firearm, President Joe Biden in a news conference Sunday said officials believe that the man “got the weapons on the street. He purchased them when he landed.”

Law enforcement investigators told the Washington Post that they believe Akram bought a handgun on the street at some point after he arrived in Texas.

“Authorities have traced that pistol to a last recorded purchase in 2020, but it isn’t immediately clear how the gun from that transaction later ended up in Akram’s hands, according to law enforcement officials,” the Post reported.

“Allegedly, he purchased [a firearm] on the street,” Biden repeated. “Now what that means, I don’t know. Whether he purchased it from an individual in a homeless shelter or a homeless community, or whether — because that’s where he said he was — it’s hard to tell. I just don’t know.”

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