COLLEYVILLE, Texas — A nearly 12-hour hostage situation came to its end in dramatic fashion on Saturday night with hostages escaping the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, just as FBI agents breached the building.
Exclusive video from WFAA photographer Josh Stephen shows three hostages bursting out of one of the synagogue's doors as FBI agents surround the building.
In the footage, shot just before 9:15 p.m., a man holding a gun can be seen following the hostages as they exit the building, then receding into it almost immediately.
Dozens of agents can then be seen in full gear, springing into action and flanking the building in file. Moments later, a loud bang can be heard -- and followed by smaller, subsequent blasts as the agents enter the premises. Soon thereafter, electricity appeared cut to the building as agents appeared to be clearing it.
At a press conference later in the evening, officials identified the agents as members of an "elite hostage rescue force out of Quantico, Virginia" that had flown in to handle the situation. Officials estimated that some 60 to 70 agents arrived as part of this unit.
Officials confirmed that all hostages left the premises safe and physically unharmed.
The hostage-taker died at the scene. It is unclear how the suspect died, as officials have not released further information.
Earlier in the day, at around 5 p.m., law enforcement officials negotiated the release of a fourth hostage, who left the premises unharmed before being reunited with his family.
At the FBI press conference, held shortly after 10 p.m., Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of FBI Dallas, praised the collective efforts of all law enforcement officers on the scene -- including members of the Colleyville Police Department and officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety -- for each doing their part in keeping all four hostages alive throughout the tense standoff.
"I’m extremely proud of the team of negotiators, the FBI agents and local police officers who worked all day long, engaging the subject, and likely [saving] the lives of the subjects just through their engagement," DeSarno said. "It’s very likely this situation would have ended very badly early on in the day had we not had professional, consistent negotiation with the subject."
Shortly after the hostages were free, President Joe Biden issued a statement honoring the "courageous" work of state, local and federal law enforcement officers for their efforts.
"I am grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages," Biden said. "We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville and the Jewish community."
Added Biden: "There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage-taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate — we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud."