DALLAS — A Texas man has been charged with a federal gun crime after authorities say he sold a gun to a man who held four hostages inside a Texas synagogue earlier this month before being fatally shot by the FBI, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities say he sold the weapon that Malik Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15 and held the synagogue’s rabbi and three others hostage for hours.
“Attorney General Garland has been clear that the Justice Department has no greater obligation than to keep Americans safe. We are aggressively working to disrupt the most dangerous threats, which includes holding accountable those individuals who commit violent crime as well as those who enable them," Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said.
He added: "Across the country, Justice Department grants are providing essential funding to help local partners prevent and respond to hate crimes and bias-motivated attacks, and to deter and protect against threats of violence against election officials and workers.”
The attorney listed for Williams in court records did not immediately respond Wednesday to a phone message and email seeking comment.
Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, held hostages in the Dallas-area suburb while demanding the release of a federal prisoner. The standoff ended after more than 10 hours when the temple’s rabbi threw a chair at Akram and fled with the other two remaining hostages just as an FBI tactical team was moving in. None of the hostages were injured.
Prosecutors say Williams sold Akram a semi-automatic pistol on Jan. 13 — two days before the hostage-taking. The pistol was recovered from the scene.
Akram paid $150 for the gun, according to charging documents. The documents state Williams was convicted in 2005 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance in 2013.
Williams allegedly acknowledged to FBI agents that he was aware he was not allowed to have a firearm and knew selling the gun to Akram was illegal.
He initially told investigators one day after Akram was killed that he recalled meeting a man with a British accent but didn’t remember his name. During a separate interview the following week, authorities said, Williams was shown a photo of Akram and this time confirmed that he sold Akram the weapon at an intersection in South Dallas.
Williams told investigators that Akram told him he intended to use the gun to intimidate someone who owed an outstanding debt, according to authorities.
Dallas police arrested Williams on an outstanding warrant Monday, and he told federal investigators that he sold the gun to Akram after being read his rights, according to charging documents.
Earlier Wednesday, British police said they arrested another two men in the investigation into the hostage-taking incident.
The counter-terrorism force Policing North West said the two men were arrested in the northern English city of Manchester. They were being held for questioning and have not yet been charged.
The police force did not disclose details about the two men. British police do not release names and details of detainees until they are charged.
Akram was originally from the town of Blackburn in northwest England.
The hostages said Akram cited antisemitic stereotypes, and authorities said Akram was demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan and who is serving a lengthy sentence in a prison near Colleyville.
British media reported that Akram was investigated by MI5, the domestic security service, in the second half of 2020, but was deemed not to be a credible threat at the time.