US charges man who sold gun used in synagogue hostage crisis

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

Law enforcement vehicles are seen in the area where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue during services that were being streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, US, January 15, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/Shelby Tauber)
Law enforcement vehicles are seen in the area where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue during services that were being streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, US, January 15, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Shelby Tauber)

The US Justice Department has filed criminal charges against a man for allegedly selling the gun that Malik Faisal Akram later used to take hostages earlier this month at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, the US Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas announced Wednesday.

Williams, who was previously convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, sold Akram the semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol on Jan. 13, according to prosecutors. 

Two days later, Akram brought the pistol to Congregation Beth Israel during Saturday morning prayers, where he held four people, including the rabbi, hostage for nearly 11 hours. The first hostage was released around 5 p.m. The other three broke free unharmed when Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker threw a chair at Akram to distract him and fled out a side door.

Interviewed by the FBI days later, after his arrest on an outstanding state warrant, Williams identified a photo of Akram and affirmed he had made the firearm sale for $150.

The pistol was found inside the synagogue after FBI agents breached the building on Jan. 15, killing Akram in the process. The FBI is investigating the hostage situation as both terrorism and a hate crime. 

 Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, the man at the center of the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue hostage crisis that occurred January 15, 2022 (credit: screenshot) Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, the man at the center of the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue hostage crisis that occurred January 15, 2022 (credit: screenshot)

A detention hearing has been set for Monday, Jan. 31.  

“Federal firearm laws are designed to keep guns from falling into dangerous hands. As a convicted felon, Mr. Williams was prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms. Whether or not he knew of his buyer’s nefarious intent is largely irrelevant — felons cannot have guns, period, and the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who do,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham. “We are grateful to the many officers and agents who sprang into action as soon as the synagogue hostage crisis began, and who worked tirelessly to track the weapon from Mr. Akram to Mr. Williams. The freed hostages, the Beth Israel congregation, and indeed the entire Jewish community deserve that support.” 

“The Dallas FBI Field Office and our partners have worked around the clock since January 15, 2022 to determine how Malik Faisal Akram acquired the weapon he used to terrorize worshipers at Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel synagogue," said Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno. "Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners we pledge to continue our efforts to protect our communities from violence."

Reuters contributed to this report.