COLLEYVILLE, Texas - A Texas man has been charged with selling a gun to the man who held four hostages inside a Colleyville synagogue earlier this month before being fatally shot by the FBI, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
Henry "Michael" Williams was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities say he sold the weapon that Maisal Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel on Jan. 15 and held the synagogue's rabbi and three others hostage for hours.
"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 in a statement.
Williams made an initial appearance in federal court on Wednesday afternoon on the charge.
Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, held hostages 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.
Williams and Akram were linked via cell phone records, authorities say.
Williams 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. He sold him a Taurus model G2C pistol for $150.
Hector Tarango, former ATF resident agent in charge in Fort Worth, says the two likely had no previous connection.
"I don’t think you’re going to find any connections to him or any connections to terrorism," he said. "He was just merely a guy who supplied the firearm."
The complaint does not address how the two came together for an illegal gun deal. But Tarango says one of the most popular ways people commonly connect to meet for gun purchases is through online forums.
"I can tell you that I’ve been on some of those chat rooms, and it’s extremely easy," he said.
Public records show Williams most recent listed address is in a West Dallas neighborhood and that he was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2005.
The complaint does not address how Williams got the gun.
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.