Man Who Sold Pistol Used in Synagogue Hostage Crisis Federally Charged
The man who sold Malik Faisal Akram the gun he used to kidnap hostages in a Texas synagogue earlier this month has been charged with a federal firearm crime, announced United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham.
Henry “Michael” Dwight Williams, 32, was charged Tuesday via criminal complaint with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Renée H. Toliver in the Northern District of Texas Wednesday afternoon. 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."
According to the complaint, Mr. Williams – a felon previously convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance – allegedly sold Mr. Akram a semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol on Jan. 13. Two days later, on Jan. 15, agents recovered the pistol from Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, where Mr. Akram had held four individuals hostage for several hours before he was fatally shot by federal law enforcement.
As part of its intensive investigation into the hostage taking, the FBI tied Mr. Williams to Mr. Akram through an analysis of Mr. Akram’s cellphone records, which showed the pair exchanged a series of calls from Jan. 11 through Jan. 13.
When agents first interviewed Mr. Williams on Jan. 16, Mr. Williams stated that he recalled meeting a man with a British accent, but that he could not recall the man’s name. (Mr. Akram was a British citizen.) Agents interviewed the defendant again on Jan. 24, after he was arrested on an outstanding state warrant. After viewing a photo of Mr. Akram, Mr. Williams confirmed he sold Mr. Akram the handgun at an intersection in South Dallas. Analysis of both men’s cellphone records showed that the two phones were in close proximity on Jan. 13.
Mr. Williams allegedly admitted to officers that Mr. Akram told him the gun was going to be used for “intimidation” to get money from someone with an outstanding debt.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, not evidence. Like all defendants, Mr. Williams is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Dallas Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives’ Dallas Field Division, Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas Field Division, and the Colleyville Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Magliolo is prosecuting the case with the support of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Errin Martin, Jay Weimer, Alex Lewis, Lindsey Beran, Nicole Dana, and P.J. Meitl, along with Trial Attorneys David Smith and Michael Dittoe of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.