A North Texan who admitted to federal investigators that he sold a handgun to the man who earlier this month took four people hostage inside a Colleyville temple before being fatally shot by the FBI is now facing a federal gun charge, the Department of Justice says.
Henry Dwight "Michael" Williams, 32, made an initial court appearance Wednesday, having been charged the day before with being a felon in possession of a firearm after investigators said he sold Malik Faisal Akram the gun he used when he took a rabbi and three others hostage inside Colleyville's Congregation Beth Israel on Jan. 15.
Since the day of the siege, federal investigators have been working to learn where Akram, a 44-year-old British national, obtained his weapon.
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Federal investigators said the FBI identified Williams by looking through Akram's phone records which revealed the pair exchanged a series of calls from Jan. 11 through Jan. 13.
Williams, according to charging documents (at the bottom of this page), told investigators this week that he sold Akram a semiautomatic Taurus G2C pistol on Jan. 13 for $150 while on the streets of South Dallas. Williams told investigators Akram told him the gun was going to be used for "intimidation" to get money from someone who owed a debt.
Agents first interviewed Williams on Jan. 16 and he said he recalled meeting a man with a British accent, but that he didn't recall the man's name. Williams was interviewed again on Jan. 24, after being arrested on an outstanding warrant, and was shown a photo of Akram. It was then, the DOJ said, Williams confirmed he sold the man the gun.
The DOJ said an analysis of both Williams' and Akram's phone records showed their phones were in close proximity on Jan. 13.
Williams, a felon previously convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, is not allowed to possess a gun.
Standoff at Congregation Beth Israel
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham in a statement Wednesday.
Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said in a DOJ statement that his office, along with law enforcement partners, have worked "around the clock since Jan. 15 to determine how Malik Faisal Akram acquired the weapon he used to terrorize worshipers."
“We are grateful to the many officers and agents who sprang into action as soon as the synagogue hostage crisis began, and who worked tirelessly to track the weapon from Mr. Akram to Mr. Williams. The freed hostages, the Beth Israel Congregation, and indeed the entire Jewish community deserve that support," DeSarno said in a statement.
A detention hearing for Williams is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 31. It's not immediately clear if Williams has obtained an attorney.
When reached by phone Wednesday night, Williams's relative told NBC 5 he wanted to make quick money by selling the gun.
"My brother, yes, he has made mistakes in past, yes, he made a mistake on judgement with this situation but he’s not a terrorist. He doesn’t believe in hurting people," Williams's sister Wanda told NBC 5.
She said she didn't know how Williams and Akram met.
Meanwhile, the global investigation into the standoff is ongoing. Police in Manchester, England, early Wednesday, announced two more people were detained for questioning related to the incident.
That brings the total number of people detained and questioned in England to six. Two of those, a senior U.S. law enforcement official told NBC News at that time, were Akram's sons who were believed to have been in touch with their father during the standoff. The teens were later released.