Soon, homes near the synagogue were evacuated as city, state and federal officials descended on the scene, the chief said. Mr. Akram was in contact with law enforcement officials throughout the ordeal, according to Mr. DeSarno.
“The negotiation team had a high frequency and duration of contact with him,” Mr. DeSarno said. There were times when the communication ceased, he said. The “relationship” between Mr. Akram and the negotiators, according to Mr. DeSarno, “ebbed and flowed a little bit” and sometimes “got intense.”
Experts on hostage situations say that maintaining dialogue is crucial.
“Crusaders, criminals and crazies are the people that hold hostages, and you’re not always sure which one it is at first,” said Robert J. Louden, a professor emeritus of criminal justice and homeland security at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. “The information you can develop about the situation allows you to best determine which kind of situation you have.”
The synagogue’s service was being livestreamed on Facebook, and for a while after he arrived, the audio remained live, letting anyone listen in real time as Mr. Akram angrily made his demands.
At one point, apparently referring to the hostages while speaking to a negotiator, Mr. Akram said, “Their children are being traumatized right now because you guys … don’t want to work with me.”
After asking the hostages, one by one, how many children each of them had, he appeared to address the negotiator, saying “Why are you going to leave seven children orphaned?”
At about 5 p.m., one male hostage was released, unharmed, while the other three continued to be held, the authorities said.