Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was held hostage on Saturday for 10 hours along with three of his congregants, credited regular active-shooter training with saving lives.
The New York Post reported that Cytron-Walker said his synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel, “participated in multiple security courses,” including some with local police and the FBI.
“We are alive today because of that education,” the rabbi said in a statement on Saturday.
“In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening,” Cytron-Walker said, referring to the suspect who took the hostages and was shot dead on Saturday.
“Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself,” the rabbi added. “We are grateful for the outcome.”
Cytron-Walker further encouraged “all Jewish congregations, religious groups, schools, and others to participate in active-shooter and security courses.” He went on to thank everyone for “all the love, prayers and support,” and added that “there is no question that this was a traumatic experience.”
Cytron-Walker continued, saying “We are resilient and we will recover.”
The Post also reported that synagogue president Michael Finfer released his own statement reassuring the Jewish community that they were safe and that the Saturday attack “was a random act of violence.”
“Indeed, there was a one-in-a-million chance that the gunman picked our congregation. Further, the FBI is confirming that the attacker appeared to be working alone,” Finfer added.
As The Daily Wire reported, British police have since arrested two individuals believed to be connected to the hostage situation in Texas.
“As part of the ongoing investigation into the attack that took place at a Synagogue in Texas on 15 January 2022, Officers from Counter Terror Policing North West have made two arrests in relation to the incident,” the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement. “Two teenagers were detained in South Manchester this evening. They remain in custody for questioning.”
“CTP North West and CTP International operations continues to assist the investigation being led by the US authorities, and police forces in the region are liaising with local communities to put in place any measures to provide further reassurance,” the statement concluded.
The FBI initially claimed the suspect who took the hostages on Saturday was not motivated by any connection to the Jewish community.
“We do believe from our engagement with this subject that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said. “But we’re continuing to work to find motive and we will continue on that path. In terms of the resolution of the incident, the hostage taker is deceased.”
The Bureau later changed its stance to say “This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
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