Henry Michael Williams, a Dallas man and convicted felon, is charged with selling the gun used in the Texas synagogue hostage situation earlier this month.
Federal authorities believe Williams sold a handgun to 44-year-old British citizen Maisal Faisal Akram used to hold four people hostage for hours at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Jan. 15. Akram was killed when an FBI tactical team stormed the building. No hostages were injured.
Williams was booked for being a felon in possession of a firearm and appeared in court to answer the charge on Wednesday. He’s due back before a federal judge on Jan. 31, reports added.
Henry Michael Williams Charged
According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court and obtained first by the Dallas Observer, investigators believe Williams arranged to sell the weapon — a semi-automatic handgun — to Akram through phone calls made over a two-day period in the week before the attack.
Federal law enforcement linked Williams to Akram quickly and spoke with the Texan the day after the hostages were freed. At that time, Williams reportedly told authorities that he remembered meeting a man with a British accent in the days before the attack, but that he did not recall the man’s name.
His memory, luckily, became clearer the next week. The feds returned for a follow-up interview. In that conversation, Williams reportedly identified a photo of Akram as the British man in question and admitted to authorities that he had sold Akram a handgun on a street corner in south Dallas.
Williams said that Akram told him he needed the weapon to “intimidate” someone who owed him money, investigators wrote in the criminal complaint.
He was arrested on an outstanding warrant on Monday and confessed his involvement with Akram almost immediately after being taken into custody, reports indicate.
Previously, Williams was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, which makes it illegal for him to own a firearm under federal law. He reportedly told authorities that he knew his possession and sale of the handgun was unlawful.
“Federal firearm laws are designed to keep guns from falling into dangerous hands,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham in a press release Wednesday. “As a convicted felon, Mr. Williams was prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms.”
The prosecutor continued: “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.”
More Arrests in Texas Synagogue Hostage Situation
Williams’ arrest came just hours after British officials said they’d arrested two men in the city of Manchester in connection with the Texas synagogue hostage situation.
They have not been charged but were detained for questioning, authorities said. Their names and apparent connection to the attack have not been released.
Those men are the third pair to have been taken in for questioning over the course of the British investigation. Two others were briefly detained on Jan. 20 and later released without being charged, as were two Manchester teens in the days before that.
Both the U.S. and U.K. investigations are seeking to root out any potential accomplices of Akram, who was killed at the synagogue by FBI agents.
During the attack, Akram tried to negotiate the release of 49-year-old Aafia Siddiqui from federal prison. Siddiqui, a Pakistani national who Akram once called his “sister” in the Islamist movement, was was convicted of attempted murder for trying to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010.