DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - One of the Dallas outreach centers where synagogue hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram stayed the night prior to taking four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel on Jan. 15 released a new photo of him.
The 44-year-old British citizen was killed in the ensuing standoff but all the hostages were unharmed. It still isn't clear whether or not he was shot by law enforcement or if the gunshot was self-inflicted.
Akram had spent time in area homeless shelters in the two weeks leading up to the attack. He was taken to the OurCalling shelter in downtown Dallas on January 2 by a man who hugged him and had conversations with him, said Wayne Walker, CEO and pastor of OurCalling, which provides services to homeless people.
"OurCalling – a faith-based daytime outreach center that provides services to homeless men and women in Dallas – was open the night of January 2, 2022," the organization said in a newly-released statement. "When the weather was below freezing temperatures, the center – along with other community and religious organizations – acted in good faith, opening its doors to protect those seeking shelter. Malik Faisal Akram, the synagogue hostage taker, came to OurCalling at 10:01 p.m., presenting as a homeless individual in need of shelter. He spent that night at OurCalling and departed the next day.
OurCalling has shared the photograph and video – taken by the center's security cameras and during the intake process – with the FBI.
We take security very seriously, because we want to protect our most valuable neighbors. He misrepresented himself, like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Now more than ever, OurCalling needs the support of the community as we help individuals out of their vulnerable state and off the streets."
"He was dropped off by somebody that looked like he had a relationship with him," said Walker, who said they turned photos and video over to the FBI.
One of the hostages, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told "CBS Mornings" that he'd let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday morning because he appeared to need shelter.
Cytron-Walker said Akram wasn't threatening or suspicious at first, but later he heard a gun click as he was praying.
Akram could be heard ranting on a Facebook livestream of the services and demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.
"The last hour or so of the standoff, he wasn't getting what he wanted. It didn't look good. It didn't sound good. We were terrified," Cytron-Walker told "CBS Mornings."
At a service held Monday evening at a nearby Methodist church, Cytron-Walker said the amount of "well-wishes and kindness and compassion" has been overwhelming. "Thank you for all of the compassion, from the bottom of my heart," he said. "While very few of us are doing OK right now, we'll get through this."
The investigation stretched to England, where late Sunday police in Manchester announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. Law enforcement officials say the teens are Akram's sons. Investigators believe Akram was in contact with his sons in the hours before the standoff and are working to discern what information he may have shared with them, one official said. Greater Manchester Police tweeted that counter-terrorism officers had made the arrests but did not say whether the pair faced any charges.
President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror. Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said Akram allegedly purchased a weapon on the streets.
Akram arrived in the U.S. - New York - on a tourist visa from Great Britain, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended to be public.
After staying at the OurCalling facility, he stayed in another Dallas homeless shelter.
Akram stayed three nights between Jan. 6 and Jan. 13 at Union Gospel Mission Dallas, per information from the homeless shelter's CEO, Bruce Butler. According to their records, Akram left there for the last time on Jan. 13 — two days before he took the hostages at the synagogue.
Akram used his phone during the course of negotiations to communicate with people other than law enforcement, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
It wasn't clear why Akram chose the synagogue, though the prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in Fort Worth.
An attorney in Texas who represents Siddiqui said Monday that Siddiqui had no connections to Akram.
Akram, who was called Faisal by his family, was from Blackburn, an industrial city in northwest England. His family said he'd been "suffering from mental health issues."
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