Man who claims ties to al Qaeda terror suspect holding hostages at synagogue in metro Dallas

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This is a breaking story from Law Enforcement Today

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION GAINED LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON.

COLLEYVILLE, TX- An Islamic terrorist who is holding hostages at a synagogue in this Texas community claims to be the brother of another terrorist who is incarcerated near Fort Worth, TX., in connection with her trying to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

According to ABC News:

The suspect’s sister is a known terrorist who is incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth and he is demanding to have the sister freed, according to the source.

Law Enforcement Today has since learned that information may be incorrect, addressed below. 

According to ABC News correspondent Aaron Katersky in a tweet:

“One suspect has taken the rabbi and three others hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, TX. The hostage-taker is claiming to be armed and says his sister is Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in New York of trying to kill US military personnel,” Katersky said. 

“Hostage taker is Muhammad Siddiqui and claims to be Aafia Siddiqui’s brother. He is demanding her freedom from an 86-year prison sentence,” Katersky said in a subsequent tweet.

For some odd reason, that tweet is no longer available. Here is a screenshot of that tweet:

Man who claims ties to al Qaeda terror suspect holding hostages at synagogue in metro Dallas
Aaron Katersky, ABC News tweet which has been deleted-screenshot

The Daily Wire reports that according to Foreign Policy:

Aafia Siddiqui is “linked to al Qaeda and was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill Americans in Afghanistan.

Siddiqui…who’s known in counterterrorism circles as ‘Lady al Qaeda’ has been linked to 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and was once on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists list. Educated in the United States—she studied at M.I.T. and received a doctorate from Brandeis—Siddiqui was arrested in 2008 in Afghanistan carrying sodium cyanide as well as documents describing how to make chemical weapons and dirty bombs and how to weaponize Ebola.

When FBI and military officials tried to question Siddiqui, she grabbed a weapon left on the table in her interrogation room and fired upon them.”

Late Saturday afternoon, the Post Millennial reported that Muhammad Siddiqui issued a statement in which he claimed he is NOT the hostage taker inside the synagogue. 

Meanwhile in Texas, police in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were dispatched to the Beth Israel Synagogue in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville early Saturday afternoon.

In a tweet, the Colleyville Police Department wrote:

“We are currently conducting SWAT operations around the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Rd. All residents in the immediate area are being evacuated. Please avoid the area.”

A subsequent tweet at 3:20 PM said:

“UPDATE 1/15/22, 3:20 PM The situation at the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Road posted about earlier remains ongoing. We ask that you continue to avoid the area. We will continue to provide updates via social media.”

 

According to a reporter from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jessika Harkay, she tweeted out remarks attributed to the suspect, which were overheard on the synagogue’s live stream posted on Facebook prior to it being taken down ostensibly by Facebook.

“Don’t cry on the f***ing phone with me,” said someone believed to be the suspect on the livestream. “Don’t f***ing cry on me. I have 6 beautiful kids…They are hostages in the synagogue who are going to die…What are you crying for?”

“I’m going to die, are you listening?…I’m going to die doing this, alright? Are you listening? I’m going to die. Don’t cry about me. I’m going to die. Don’t cry about me. Are you listening? I am going to die.”

An official with the Colleyville Police Department, Sgt. Dara Nelson said that police have been in contact with the suspect and police have not yet entered the building.

“Texas Department of Public Safety officials confirmed that state troopers are helping Colleyville police at the scene, but more information was not available,” WFAA reported. “The FBI was also responding to the situation.”

The situation, occurring in a place of worship is a reminder that in 2019, then-candidate Joe Biden slammed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for signing a bill into law which permitted legal gun owners to carry firearms in places of worship, a move which Biden referred to as “irrational.”

“Dealing with firearms, it is irrational, with all due respect to the governor of Texas, irrational what they are doing,” Biden said on Sept. 2, 2019.

“On the very day you see a mass shooting…and we’re talking about loosening access to have guns, to be able to take them into places of worship, it’s just absolutely irrational. It’s totally irrational,” the Daily Wire reported Biden as saying.

Law Enforcement Today will update this story as more information becomes available. 

Two men arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a Chicago cop after shooting him during a traffic stop

For a previous Law Enforcement Today piece on a hostage situation, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

WAUCHULA HILLS, FL- According to authorities, a convicted murderer who was released from prison over the summer is back in custody after attacking deputies while they tried to rescue three people trapped within his home.

The Hardee County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said that on Sunday, November 15th, deputies and officers from Wauchula and Bowling Green responded to a possible hostage situation at a home in Wauchula Hills.

According to the HCSO report, as officers approached the home, 61-year-old Mitchell Albritton told them he was armed as he tried to shut the door on the officers. Deputies reportedly forced the door open, but Albritton allegedly attacked them with a hatchet, hitting two of them before deputies managed to arrest him.

The sheriff’s office stated that the injured deputies were taken to a hospital and released after treatment. After the deputies got Albritton into custody, they said that they found three victims inside the home, all of them covered in blood.

One victim told authorities that they were afraid to leave because every time they tried to move, Albritton picked up the hatchet. 

According to authorities, Albritton was convicted in 1997 for murder and was released on August 13th, on conditional release supervision.

Albritton also had an arrest record for false imprisonment, shooting into a dwelling, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition. With this latest incident, he now faces charges for:

Attempted second-degree murder of a law enforcement officer;
Aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer;
Resist officer with violence;
Attempted second-degree murder;
Domestic violence- Aggravated battery;
Battery on a law enforcement officer;
Domestic violence- False imprisonment; and
Resist officer without violence.

In a separate incident, a convicted Florida killer sentenced to death in 2020 for raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl has filed an appeal with the state’s Supreme Court, seeking a new sentencing trial. 

Granville Ritchie was found guilty in 2019 of raping and strangling to death Felecia Williams and stuffing her body into a suitcase in 2014. While administering the sentence in 2020, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Michelle Sisco, said in a statement:

“The child victim suffered a horrendous, physically painful, psychologically torturous death. May God have mercy on your soul, Mr. Ritchie.”

At the heart of the defense’s argument is whether one of the prosecutors violated the “Golden Rule Law” by telling the jury to put themselves in the victim’s position, which critics say can increase a focus on a person’s biases rather than the evidence.

The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty. Florida Supreme Court Justice Jamie Grosshans said she was “trying to figure out how” Tampa prosecutor Scott Harmon’s remarks were “not a Golden Rule violation.” In his remarks during the trial, Harmon said:

“Can you imagine the dread of knowing that your life is ending and you are feeling pain all over your body? That pain would’ve been greater for a little girl.”

Rick Buckwalter, the appellate attorney for Flordia, agreed Harmon came close to violating the rule, but claimed he did not cross the line. Ritchie’s attorney Rachel Roebuck disagreed, saying:

“Mr. Harmon is a veteran prosecutor who has been prosecuting homicides for 20 years. He wrote out this argument, he gave it to colleagues I guarantee you and tested it. This was deliberate.”

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Convicted murderer released from prison in 2020 charged with missing woman’s death

October 18th, 2021

 Editor’s note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

SUNRISE, FL – A 54-year-old convicted murderer who was released from prison in 2020 reportedly confessed to murdering a 33-year-old woman who’d been missing since late September. Authorities say that the suspect admitted to stabbing the victim four times with a screwdriver.

On October 16th, police charged 54-year-old Eric Pierson with first-degree murder in the killing of 33-year-old Erika Verdecia, whose body was discovered the same day near Fort Lauderdale after having been reported missing for several weeks.

Authorities say that Pierson admitted to murdering Verdecia on September 25th. A statement from the Sunrise Police Department noted that while there is nothing that can be done to bring the victim back, they’re hopeful that Pierson’s reported confession brings closure:

“We now have in custody, Eric Pierson, who has confessed to the murder of Erika Verdecia.  Although this tragic news does not bring Erika back to her family and friends, we hope that it can bring some closure to her loved ones.”

“The Sunrise Police Department thanks the public for their assistance with this case.  We will continue to keep her family and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The suspect in the case has been sent to prison twice before, gaining parole for two extremely heinous crimes committed in the 80s and early 90s that was possible due to what some would refer to as the “old code” for parole – an antiquated system where offenders would serve a fraction of their sentences that has since been abandoned and replaced by truth-in-sentencing in Florida.

In 1985, Pierson had broken into a home and slit a woman’s throat. In that case, Pierson was sentenced to 18 years in prison for attempted murder – but was paroled after only serving four years.

Then in 1993, Pierson beat and strangled 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker, where he was convicted of second-degree murder. In that case he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, which he was paroled after serving 27 years and was released in September of 2020.

Even though by the time Pierson was released for the 1993 murder, the “old code” for parole was long since abandoned, the application of truth-in-sentencing could not be legally applied retroactively for cases already adjudicated.

Verdecia’s mother spoke to the South Florida SunSentinel about the case, expressing frustration over the fact that Pierson was free from prison despite his criminal record:

“Why is this guy in the streets? Why?… He’s going to pay this time. We’re not going to stop until we see him in the electric chair.”

Sunrise Police confirmed that they’d had a brief interaction with both Pierson and Verdecia on the day that she was killed during a traffic stop, with police saying that she was a passenger in Pierson’s truck and didn’t seem to be in distress.

While the case was still being treated like a missing person, police had interviewed Pierson to inquire about Verdecia’s whereabouts, where he claimed that he hadn’t seen her since September 25th after Verdecia invited him to a local Wendy’s restaurant, but she never showed up.

Police later received information from Pierson’s girlfriend that led to them discovering the victim’s body in a canal not far from his home.

The suspect’s girlfriend called police on October 15th saying that Pierson would eerily glare at the canal behind their home and say, “damn that bitch stinks” adding that he’d also stated, “if they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”

Verdecia’s body was discovered hours later by police in the aforementioned canal after receiving the tip from the suspect’s girlfriend.

 Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Huh? Retired police officer, 70, arrested after refusing to leave her daughter’s side at Florida hospital

(Originally published October 14th, 2021)

JACKSONVILLE, FL – A 70-year-old retired Ohio deputy spent the night in jail after she refused to leave her daughter’s bedside at a Florida hospital.

Lynn Savage’s daughter, Amber, underwent brain surgery at UF Health North in Jacksonville, Florida and because her daughter is non-verbal and partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke, she did not want to leave her side.

The retired Stark County deputy sheriff said that doctors asked her to come into her daughter’s room to help keep her calm:

“As soon as I approached the bedside, she was fine. With all these people talking and all these things going on and she doesn’t understand it and not being able to talk, she was just frantic.”

Savage remained at her daughter’s bedside from 6:30 am on October 4 until a nurse came to tell her visiting hours were ending:

“The nurse said that the visiting hours were over at 7 p.m. and I had to leave. And I said, “I’m not going to leave. I want to stay here with my daughter. Can you call the doctor because the doctor is the one that wanted me here with her?’

“And she said no that they couldn’t do that. The COVID rules said that visiting hours were over at seven and I had to leave.”

The retired deputy dedicated her life to helping others, and now decided it was time for her to help her own:

“I could not in good conscience and good heart leave her bedside, not knowing how she was going to make it through the night voluntarily.”

When Savage refused to leave at 7 p.m., security tried to convince her to leave. When she refused, police were called, and Jacksonville Police Officer B.S. Crocker responded.

In his report, Officer Crocker wrote:

Upon arrival, I met UF Health Security Supervisor Marcus Hardaway. He and other security officers spent a couple of hours pleading for the suspect, Ms. Lynn Savage, to leave because visitation was over at 1900 hours. I then approached Ms. Savage in room #3104, where her daughter was recovering from surgery.

“I explained the reason security called the police for the trespass warning. She understood completely why the police were called. Ms. Savage is a twenty-year retired deputy with the Stark County, Ohio Sheriff’s Office. She stated she understood but would have to be removed by force.”

Savage did not hold the arresting officer responsible for her arrest. She said he was polite and tried to get her to leave voluntarily:

“The sheriff’s office came up. They were also very polite. They kept trying to get me to leave and I said I’m not leaving; I’m not going to leave my daughter’s side.”

Officer Crocker said he placed the retired deputy into custody and escorted her outside. Once outside the hospital, he said he pleaded with the concerned mother to leave and come back in the morning. He wrote:

“Once escorted outside the hospital, I pleaded for Ms. Savage to come to reason, leave and return in the morning when visitation opened at 0900 hours. She refused for the principle that if something happens to her daughter Amber, she was forced to leave her side. Ms. Savage understands (that) trespass is good for one year.”

The elderly mother and retired deputy spend about 24-hours in jail after being booked on trespassing charges. She called the experience “horrible”:

“Not an experience that I would ever want to do again for the rest of my life not ever. It was horrible. It was filthy, it was more like an insane asylum with the women screaming and hollering and banging on bars and banging on walls.

“It was just terrifying, but I would rather be there than know that I had walked away from my daughter.”

UF Health Jacksonville issued a statement trying to justify their actions:

“Due to federal HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot comment on inquiries about specific patients. However, UF Health Jacksonville is dedicated to the well-being and safety of everyone who visits our facilities, especially patients and their families.

“Like health care organizations throughout the country, we have put policies in place to protect everyone from the COVID-19 virus, including patients, visitors and staff. Information about visitation limitations are placed in areas visible to those entering our facilities.”

According to court records, Savage has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing and has pleaded not guilty. Her next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Although Amber made it through the night and is recovering, Savage said she did not regret her decision:

“I stand by my actions 100 percent. I am not sorry that I made them take me out of there in handcuffs.”

_

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