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Colleyville rabbi who escaped hostage situation is leaving North Texas for new position

Charlie Cytron-Walker, the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, announced on his Facebook page that he accepted a rabbi position in North Carolina.

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — The Colleyville rabbi who was among four hostages held at his synagogue in January is leaving North Texas for a new position in North Carolina.

Charlie Cytron-Walker, the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, announced on his Facebook page that he accepted a rabbi position at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Cytron-Walker will start at the synagogue in North Carolina on July 1. He said his 16 years as rabbi in Colleyville "will always be remembered with love."

"I love the people," Cytron-Walker said of the Colleyville congregation. "I love the community. And I am planning on making the most of the time I have with CBI."

Cytron-Walker was one of four people inside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on the morning of Jan. 15, when Malik Faisal Akram arrived at the door.

Cytron-Walker let Akram inside, believing he needed help, and made the man a cup of tea.

As the synagogue's virtual ceremony began, Akram pulled out a gun and began to hold Cytron-Walker and three others hostage.

For several hours, the incident played out on the synagogue's Facebook Live stream, as Akram could be heard in the background of the video.

Around 5 p.m. that day, one of the hostages was released, but Cytron-Walker and two others remained inside.

Several hours later, shortly after 9 p.m., Cytron-Walker said Akram appeared to be getting more agitated. Cytron-Walker waited until Akram "wasn't in a good position" and threw a chair toward him, and then he and the other hostages escaped through a side door of the synagogue.

WFAA captured video of their escape. Moments later, Akram could be seen on the footage holding a gun out of the door, and then going back inside.

FBI agents entered the synagogue, and a loud bang could be heard. Agents then fatally shot Akram, who died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office.

In the weeks after the hostage situation, Cytron-Walker explained what happened inside the synagogue, as Akram sought to free a prisoner at a Fort Worth prison and expressed anti-Semitic views.

"That was his singular focus," Cytron-Walker said during a U.S. House committee hearing on security for places of worship. "That Jews control the world. That was reality for him. He believed that 100%, that America would care more about Jews than anybody else."

Cytron-Walker this week did not say why he's leaving Congregation Beth Israel, only that he feels "nothing but affection for CBI and its leadership."

"I’m proud that I will always be their first full time rabbi and I have great optimism about their future!" Cytron-Walker wrote on his Facebook. "And I am also feeling great anticipation and enthusiasm for our move to North Carolina. Temple Emanuel, I can’t wait to see what we can do together!"

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