Jan 15 (Reuters) – Authorities are negotiating with a man who has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, during services on Saturday that were being streamed live, according to media reports.
Agents from the FBI were negotiating with the gunman, CNN reported. The FBI did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The Colleyville Police Department posted on Twitter earlier on Saturday that it was conducting SWAT operations on the block where Congregation Beth Israel is located and said that all residents in the immediate area were being evacuated.
No injuries have been reported inside the building in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.
“Colleyville Police Sgt. Dara Nelson said negotiators have made contact with somebody inside the synagogue who they believe is a suspect,” the Dallas Morning News said.
The man could be heard having a one-sided conversation in what appeared to be a phone call during a livestream of the Reform Jewish synagogue’s Shabbat service. The livestream cut off around 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT).
Before the Facebook livestream was ended, a man could be heard ranting and talking about religion and his sister, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The man could be heard repeatedly saying he didn’t want to see anyone hurt and that he believes he is going to die, the newspaper said.
Barry Klompus, 63, a member of the congregation since it opened in 1999, said he was alerted to the situation by another member and quickly turned to the live feed until it was cut off.
“It was horrible listening and watching, and it’s that much more horrible not knowing,” Klompus said in a telephone interview.
Though he was not able to clearly understand what the man wanted, Klompus believes the man wanted to talk to his sister.
Klompus said he did not know of any significant previous threats to the congregation.
“We don’t have a security officer on staff but we have what I would say is a very good relationship with the local police,” he said.
(Reporting by Aram Roston, Daphne Psaledakis, Jonathan Allen and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)