Hostages who escaped Texas synagogue say lessons in security training helped save their lives
- A gunman held four people
hostageover the weekend at a Texassynagogue.
- All four
hostagesescaped without injury, and some of them have credited security training.
- Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said they knew to shield their bodies and position themselves by exits.
Some of the four people who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue in Texas on Saturday are publicly crediting lessons in security training with saving their lives.
"First of all, we escaped," Jeffrey Cohen, the vice president of the synagogue, who was one of the hostages, wrote in a Facebook post. "We weren't released or freed. We escaped because we had training from the Secure Community Network on what to do in the event of an active shooter. This training saved our lives — I am not speaking in hyperbole here — it saved our lives."Post by Jeffrey R. Cohen.
Cohen and three others were taken hostage during a livestreamed service at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, near Fort Worth.
They remained in the synagogue during an hours-long standoff between authorities and the assailant, whom authorities identified as a 44-year-old British national named Malik Faisal Akram.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, another of the hostages, told The New York Times that various guidance over the years from the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, and the SCN — a nonprofit, mentioned in Cohen's Facebook post, that provides safety and security resources to American Jews — helped the hostages buy time and ultimately manage to escape.
Cytron-Walker said he positioned himself in a row near an exit and helped other hostages prepare to escape by whispering instructions to them, according to The Times.
Following the lead of the rabbi, Cohen covertly used his feet to position chairs in a way that might have shielded him from bullets or shrapnel, The Times reported.
One of the hostages was released during the standoff, but Cytron-Walker told The Times he threw a chair at the hostage-taker and initiated the remaining men's escape after the gunman instructed the three of them to get on their knees. All four hostages were uninjured, and Akram was reported killed when authorities moved in after the 10-hour standoff.
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