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U.S. Headlines

Police SWAT team operating at Texas synagogue

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to turn now to a tense situation going on AT a synagogue near Dallas. A SWAT team is set up outside Congregation Beth Israel in the city of Colleyville, Texas, in what is apparently a hostage situation. Reporter Bill Zeeble from member station KERA in Dallas is with us now to tell us more. Bill, welcome. Thank you for joining us.

BILL ZEEBLE, BYLINE: Good talking to you.

MARTIN: What can you tell us about how this situation developed today?

ZEEBLE: Well, Saturday morning services are typical for a synagogue. Saturday morning services were interrupted by a ranting man in the services. This was a livestreamed service from Beth Israel, so people looking and watching on livestream could hear this man. And then, late in the morning, by around 11:00 or 11:30 or so, police say, the stream stopped. Police say there was a hostage situation or an alleged hostage situation, and Colleyville police were called to the scene.

MARTIN: What, if anything, do we know about what is happening inside now?

ZEEBLE: At the moment, we are getting reports that Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three others are held hostage by this man. We are assuming he's armed, or he wouldn't be able to hold hostages, but that's a guess. There's no report of a weapon, but we know there are three hostages. And SWAT team is on site, and FBI is involved as well.

MARTIN: Has anyone been hurt at this point? Obviously, it's a terrifying situation. I don't want to minimize that if, indeed, one is being held hostage. But has anybody been physically hurt at this point? Do we know of any injuries?

ZEEBLE: At the moment, we do not. There have been no calls for medical assistance. There have been no calls for an ambulance to arrive or for a doctor to show up. So based on that - that's only a guess. We don't know much. But so far, it appears no one's been seriously enough injured to call for medical assistance.

MARTIN: Do we have any sense of what the individual who's suspected here wants? What does he want?

ZEEBLE: Unclear. There are some reports elsewhere, but nothing's confirmed. We just know that he's holding hostages in this synagogue in Colleyville and that FBI and SWAT are negotiating with him but about what and for what is unclear.

MARTIN: Can you tell us any more about the synagogue? What kind of congregation is it? Tell us a little bit about the community that it serves.

ZEEBLE: It's a suburban community, you know, single-family homes, upper-middle class, middle class, upper-middle class, northwest of Fort Worth and of Dallas but it's closer to Fort Worth. It's a somewhat conservative, you know, community - neighborhood, suburbs and a quiet part of town. It's a few miles from public schools, this synagogue. So that's who it serves is these, you know, middle and upper-middle-class members.

MARTIN: And is it a reformed synagogue, a conservative? I take it it's not orthodox if the service was being streamed.

ZEEBLE: Beth Israel is a reformed synagogue. It was founded a little - in 1999, so it's a little more than 20 years old. And, you know, it's - this hostage situation is garnering information locally. The mayor said the Dallas police will patrol Dallas synagogues and the Dallas officials are working with the Jewish Federation out of precaution. But it's also, you know, gone international. So Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says, I'm closely monitoring the situation taking place in Congregation Beth Israel, and we pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers. So it's a local incident that has gone now international.

MARTIN: That was reporter Bill Zeeble from member station KERA in Dallas. Bill, thank you so much for your reporting here.

ZEEBLE: Happy to talk to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATT LOUDA'S "REMEDY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.