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Man accused of providing gun to Colleyville standoff suspect charged

Henry 'Michael' Williams, 32, has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

DALLAS — The man who allegedly sold the gun the Colleyville synagogue suspect used to hold four people hostage earlier this month has been federally charged, officials say.

The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas announced that Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Williams, officials said, made his initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge Wednesday afternoon. 

On the morning of Jan. 15, officials said Malik Faisal Akram, a British national, entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville as Sabbath services were underway. A live stream of the services captured Akram making demands for the release of a Pakistani scientist, suspected of having ties to terrorism, who is imprisoned in a Fort Worth prison.

He later held four people, including the synagogue's rabbi, hostage in a standoff that stretched for nearly 12 hours. All of the hostages were able to escape unharmed. Akram ultimately died after a special hostage rescue team brought in from Quantico, Virginia moved in and killed him.

Federal investigators have since been working "around the clock" to piece together Akram's movements - from the time he arrived in the United States to the morning of the standoff. 

Along the way, British authorities have detained and questioned - and later released - several people, though the specific connections between Akram and those people has not been revealed.

Now, federal authorities have charged Williams, previously convicted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, for allegedly providing the gun used in the crime.

According to officials, Williams sold Akram a semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol on Jan. 13, despite Williams being prohibited from carrying or selling firearms because of his prior conviction. Officials said they later recovered that gun at the end of the standoff.

Investigators said they first questioned Williams the day after the standoff, after an analysis of cellphone records showed him and the suspect had exchanged several calls in the days leading up to the standoff. Williams said he recalled meeting a man with a British accent, but could not remember his name. 

Agents questioned Williams again on Jan. 24, after he was arrested on an outstanding state warrant, and showed him a photo of Akram. That's when Williams confirmed he sold Akram the gun, officials said. 

Cellphone records also showed the two phones were in the same area on Jan. 13, just two days before the standoff. 

Williams later admitted that Akram told him the gun was going to be used for “intimidation” to get money from someone with an outstanding debt. 

In an interview with WFAA's Adriana de Alba, William's wife and sister were adamant that Williams neither knew Akram nor was involved with him in any way. They said they believed Akram was likely put in touch with Williams through people he knew all over south Dallas.

They described Williams as a hustler who would sell things to make money, but would have never sold Akram the gun if he had known what it was for. But U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham said that doesn't matter.

"Whether or not he knew of his buyer’s nefarious intent is largely irrelevant,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham. 

Williams is now being held by the FBI. A detention hearing has been set for Monday, Jan. 31.