Texas rabbi says he, 2 hostages escaped synagogue hostage-taker

The rabbi of a Texas synagogue said Monday that he threw a chair at the gunman and then escaped with two other hostages after a 10-hour standoff, crediting past security training for getting himself and his congregation out safely.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told “CBS Mornings” that he let the gunman in Saturday because he appeared to need shelter. He said the man was not threatening or suspicious at first. Later, he heard a gun click as he was praying.

Another man held hostage, Jeffrey R. Cohen, described the ordeal on Facebook.

“First of all, we escaped. We weren’t released or freed,” Cohen said.

Cohen said the men worked to keep the gunman engaged. They talked to the gunman, he lectured them. At one point as the situation devolved, Cohen said the gunman told them to get on their knees. Cohen recalled rearing up in his chair and slowly moving his head and mouthing “no.” As the gunman moved to sit back down, Cohen said Cytron-Walker yelled to run.

“The exit wasn’t too far away,” Cytron-Walker said. “I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out with even a shot being fired.”

Authorities identified the hostage-taker as 44-year-old British national, Malik Faisal Akram, who was killed Saturday night after the last hostages ran out of Congregation Beth Israel around 9 p.m.