US Charges Man With Selling Gun Used in Synagogue Hostage Crisis

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department has filed criminal charges against a man for allegedly selling the gun that another man later used to take hostages at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, is charged in a complaint with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He made his initial appearance before a federal judge on Wednesday, and the government is seeking to have him detained pending trial at a hearing on Jan. 31.

On Jan. 15, British-born gunman Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel, including its rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, after they had invited him inside for tea during a worship service.

He brandished a gun and held them hostage for 10 hours. The standoff ended in gunfire, with all four hostages released unharmed and the suspect dead.

During the standoff, Akram demanded to speak with a Jewish leader in New York, and also asked FBI negotiators to release Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence for terrorism offenses at a federal facility in nearby Fort Worth, Texas.

The Justice Department said on Wednesday that Williams has a prior conviction for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance.

He is accused of selling Akram a Taurus G2C pistol on Jan. 13. The handgun was recovered by federal agents two days later at the scene of the hostage crisis.

According to the complaint, agents were able to track Williams down through cellphone records.

He told them he recalled meeting a man with a British accent, but could not recall the man’s name.

In a subsequent interview with law enforcement, he further confirmed brokering a gun sale with Akram, and said Akram told him the gun would be used for “intimidation” to recover money from someone who had an outstanding debt with him.

Williams told the agents he sold Akram the gun for $150.

“During the custodial interview with Williams on January 24, 2022, Williams stated to the interviewing agents that he knew he was not allowed to be in possession of a firearm and that he knew conducting the sale of the gun to Akram was illegal,” the complaint says.

By Sarah N. Lynch