Man who sold pistol to Texas synagogue hostage-taker suspect charged with violating federal gun laws

·3 min read
colleyville texas synagogue standoff
SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Dallas, on January 15, 2022.Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images
  • A man who sold the gun used by the suspect in the Texas synagogue hostage incident has been charged.

  • Prosecutors charged Henry "Michael" Williams with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

  • Officials said Williams sold a semiautomatic pistol to Malik Faisal Akram, who was killed in the standoff.

The man who sold the gun used by the suspect who held four people hostage earlier this month at a Texas synagogue was charged Wednesday with breaking federal gun laws.

In a criminal complaint, the US Department of Justice said that Henry "Michael" Williams was prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a prior felony conviction. Prosecutors charged Williams with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to prosecutors, he sold a semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol to Malik Faisal Akram, a British national, who police say later entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and held four people hostage in an hours-long standoff.

"As a convicted felon, Mr. Williams was prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms," US Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in a statement. "Whether or not he knew of his buyer's nefarious intent is largely irrelevant — felons cannot have guns, period, and the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who do."

Williams had previously been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, according to the complaint.

Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said in a press release that the Dallas FBI Field office and its partners worked around the clock since the hostage incident on January 15 to determine how Akram acquired the gun he used to take control of the synagogue.

Prosecutors tied Akram to Williams by analyzing Akram's cellphone records, which revealed he and Williams had spoken on the phone multiple times in the days leading up to the standoff. In a series of interviews, Williams told investigators that he remembered meeting a man with a British accent but could not remember the man's name.

Days later, after Williams was arrested on an outstanding state warrant, he saw a photo of Akram and confirmed he was the buyer of the gun. Williams told authorities the two completed the transaction at an intersection in South Dallas.

Williams made his first court appearance in Texas on Wednesday afternoon, and he is due back for a detention hearing on January 31.

Authorities said Akram entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue just before 11 a.m. on January 15 as the temple was live-streaming services via Zoom. He took four hostages and reportedly demanded the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.

Akram was killed and the four hostages were released uninjured after the hours-long standoff, authorities said.

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