Niskayuna

Police patrols increased in Niskayuna due to Texas synagogue hostage situation

In this April 29, 2019, photo, Congregation Gates of Heaven Rabbi Matt Cutler speaks at Congregation Agudat Achim on Route 7 in Niskayuna, during a Schenectady Clergy Against Hate vigil in response to the shooting at a San Diego-area synagogue on April 27, 2019.
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In this April 29, 2019, photo, Congregation Gates of Heaven Rabbi Matt Cutler speaks at Congregation Agudat Achim on Route 7 in Niskayuna, during a Schenectady Clergy Against Hate vigil in response to the shooting at a San Diego-area synagogue on April 27, 2019.

Niskayuna police increased patrols Saturday evening in areas surrounding synagogues in the town, in response to a hostage situation at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas that unfolded Saturday during services.

As of 10:55 p.m. EST, the Colleyville Police Department said in a release that the last three hostages, including the synagogue’s rabbi, were rescued when authorities entered the building. An earlier police statement said a hostage was released uninjured shortly after 6 p.m. EST.

Authorities say the hostage-taker is dead, but are not saying how he was killed. Details of the rescue or the man’s death were not immediately released, according to a report from The Associated Press.

The situation prompted extra precautions locally until more was known about the incident.

“We’ve also asked them to do perimeter checks around the building, to make sure all the doors continue to remain locked,” said David Posner, the CEO of the Jewish Community Centers in Schenectady and Albany counties.

He said that will continue for a while. 

“Really beyond that I can’t say because we need to see how the situation develops [near] Dallas and if there are any implications for local agencies like the JCC.” 

Posner said the JCC, which is located on Balltown Road in Niskayuna, plans to be open Sunday as usual. It will also be open Monday unless an incoming snowstorm causes it to close, Posner said. 

Posner said the taking of hostages is no way to resolve an issue. 

“They could be Jewish or not Jewish, it’s just no way to resolve what seems to be a personal situation,” he said. 

Rabbi Rafi Spitzer said an email was sent out to members of Congregation Agudat Achim on Route 7 in Niskayuna regarding the matter. The hope was that the situation would be resolved quickly and no hard would come to the hostages. 

“What happens to one of us happens to all of us, so we’re deeply invested in the safety of everybody,” he said. 

He said the congregation has security in place and has since there was an attack at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. 

Sunday’s services are virtual, Spitzer said. He is speaking at the Eastern Parkway Method Church as part of an interfaith opportunity to build community. 

“I will likely mention this in my sermon,” he said Saturday night. 

He also plans to still speak Monday as part of the virtual  Martin Luther King Jr. celebration taking place in Schenectady County. 

Rabbi Matthew Cutler said the Congregation Gates of Heaven was closed Saturday and Sunday because of the cold and it will also be closed Monday because it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

He was praying Saturday night, he said, for the safety of all the hostages.

“Right now the most important part is for the safety of the congregation, the rabbi and members of that congregation that are involved,” he said. “We are very concerned about whether this is an isolated incident or a start of something else that could either be copycat or an organized situation to raise awareness to this particular situation of a convicted terrorist. We are relying in partnership with our local law enforcement and our government officials to make sure that we do everything we need to do to be safe.”

Categories: Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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