Los Angeles-area law enforcement authorities Sunday are continuing to monitor local Jewish houses of worship following a 12-hour standoff with a suspect at a synagogue in suburban Dallas who held four people hostage before he was shot and killed.
All of the hostages, which included a rabbi, were released unharmed, Texas authorities said late Saturday. They did not disclose whether the suspect was killed by law enforcement officers or a self-inflicted gunshot.
“Grateful the hostages are safe,” Police Chief Michel Moore tweeted. “@LAPDHQ has worked to communicate with our local Jewish & Muslim community leaders thru out the day and augmented patrols. We remain in close contact with our Federal Intel partners for any potential connection to LA.”
So far, no threats have been reported in Southern California.
The armed suspect entered Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, outside the Dallas/Fort Worth area, shortly after 10:30 a.m. Saturday while services were being livestreamed on Facebook.
The incident sparked concern within the Los Angeles area Jewish community and prompted the stepped up response from local law enforcement agencies.
“We’re closely following a hostage situation that is taking place at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX,” the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted Saturday afternoon. “We’re working with our federal partners, increasing patrols around synagogues in LA as a precautionary measure, and conducting community outreach to ensure the safety of Angelenos.”
Police in Beverly Hills took similar action.
“Due to the ongoing hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas and out of an abundance of caution, the Beverly Hills Police Department will be increasing patrols around our Jewish houses of worship,” the Beverly Hills Police Department tweeted. “There is no threat to public safety in our community.”
Still, local Jewish religious leaders vowed to remain vigilant.
“Once again synagogues and Jewish schools must elevate their defensive measures, not only against neo-Nazis, but Islamist terrorism and violent hate,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, CEO and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Abraham Cooper, an associate dean at the center and director of Global Social Action said in a joint statement.
“As we pray for the safety of the hostages, it is up to all Americans committed to the safety of our nation to ensure that all houses of worship will be safe from future attacks.”
Rabbi Noah Farkas, president & CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, told CBS2 said they spend. nearly $1 million per year to protect its congregations, schools and related agencies.
“For this to happen, on a Saturday morning when you’re praying for peace is just a Jewish nightmare,” Farkas said. “No one in America should have to spend a single dollar on security to go worship, but unfortunately this is another extra burden for being Jewish in America today.”