Jeff Cohen, one of four people held hostage by a gunman at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, this past Shabbat, recalled the harrowing experience in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 News on Monday.
In the interview with journalist Yuna Leibzon, Cohen said the terrorist made antisemitic remarks, saying Jews control the world and the media. He also stated that the hostages eventually escaped and were not rescued by security forces as reported.
“It’s been reported that we were released or that we were rescued. That is not the truth. The truth is that we escaped. We escaped because we were preparing all along to take the initiative when we could have it,” said Cohen.
“I strategically and tactfully made sure that I was sitting near an exit,” he recalled. “I helped my friends and my rabbi. We got us all to be sitting in the right spot.”
“At one point,” continued Cohen, “our attacker was not paying attention. He sat down. I think what he did was he put his gun down and poured some soda. Much to Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker’s credit, he picked up a chair, threw it at him and yelled ‘run!’ and we were out.”
“In the first five to 30 minutes, when you don’t know who this guy is, we had no clue, and he’s spouting all these truly crazy things, at that point I got myself into the place where it was likely that I was not going home,” he replied when asked by Leibzon whether he thought he would come out of this ordeal alive.
“However, throughout the whole ordeal, it was very important to me, and to all of us, that we all got out."