Austin police adds patrols to Jewish centers following Colleyville hostage situation

Austin police have increased patrols at local Jewish centers and facilities as a result of the recent hostage situation in Colleyville.

Shalom Austin's CEO says he’s thankful for their relationship with law enforcement to have those extra patrols because the recent hostage situation was personal for him.

Saturdays are normally a day of rest for the Jewish community, but, this past Saturday, the whole world watched as several people were taken hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville.

"First of all, it was a terrifying event," said Rabbi Daniel Septimus, CEO of Shalom Austin.

Rabbi Septimus says he was closely tuning in after he got the call of what was happening. He was told four hostages were being held inside Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville. 

One of the hostages was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who is his close friend.

"These kinds of incidents are always heart-wrenching. They're always personal at a certain level, but this was deeply personal. Someone that I know, and I've known for 20 years. Never in a million years did I think that something like this would be happening to someone that I know," he said.

After 10-hours, all four hostages were safe including his friend. A huge relief for Rabbi Septimus. "I did send a text message to Rabbi Cytron-Walker just letting him know that we love him and we're so thankful and relieved that he's free. No obligation to respond, but I know that he's seen it," he said.

Here locally, Austin is no stranger to antisemitism. Recently, a high school was vandalized with antisemitism symbols and a synagogue was set on fire.

"Unfortunately, these types of incidents have happened to the Jewish community for a very long time. I'd say that we, the Jewish community, have taken precautions and invested in security and safety for a very long time. Every year we've made those kinds of enhancements and I do feel that we are taking the right steps to ensure the safety and security of our community," said Rabbi Septimus.

Rabbi Septimus says they have always been connected with local law enforcement officials when it comes to keeping their community safe, but, after the recent hostage situation in Colleyville, the Austin Police Department has confirmed it will have extra patrols at Jewish centers and facilities.

"We all need to stand up against the injustice that's in the world and if we let it just continue to happen without saying something, then we're playing a role in allowing it to grow," said Rabbi Septimus.

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