2 gunmen killed outside Mohammed ‘art event’ in Texas

Police officers address attendees at the Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest after they are prevented from leaving when it was reported that shots were fired and a man is down in Garland, Texas May 3, 2015 (Reuters / Mike Stone)

Two gunmen have been shot and killed in a parking lot outside a venue in Garland, Texas that had been hosting a controversial Mohammed art event dedicated to free speech. As a precaution police and SWAT have swept the area for possible explosive devices.

The two suspects drove
up to the center and opened fire, injuring a Garland ISD security
officer in his leg, the city
confirmed. The officer suffered
non-life threatening injuries and was soon released from the

Both attackers were killed in the shooting, but police proceeded
to search the area for a vehicle that could allegedly have
explosives in it.

“Because of the situation and what was going on today and the
history of what we’ve been told has happened at other events like
this, we’re considering their car as possibly having a
” said Garland police officer Joe Harn, describing the
search as a “precaution.”

According to tweets from
IS followers, the attack was carried out by jihadi militants
loyal to the terrorist group.

An IS fighter from the UK tweeted – “2 of our brothers just
opened fire at the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) art exhibition in
and “They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The
Soldiers of The Islamic State,”
according to SITE
Intelligence, an online watchdog of jihadist activities.

One of the gunmen is believed to have tweeted about the impending
attack earlier on Sunday, saying ‘May Allah accept us as

Reports on the grounds say that police have finished checking the
attackers’ car for explosives and announced no immediate threat
to area.

The FBI has reportedly arrived at the scene to investigate the
incident further.

People inside the exhibition center were initially ordered to
stay indoors, while the nearby Walmart and other businesses were

The SWAT team evacuated the convention participants to a safer
location on a local high school campus.

Channel 8 reporter on
the scene, Jobin Panicker, reported that initially the crowd
heard around 3-4 gunshots. A further exchange of gunfire followed
after a brief pause.

The Curtis Culwell Center was hosting the first annual Mohammad
Art Exhibit and Contest, a controversial “free speech” event that
offered a $10,000 prize for the best cartoon of the Prophet

The American Freedom Defense Initiative event was being broadcast
live on YouTube, when a SWAT member burst in telling the crowd
that two suspects had been shot. The event was interrupted and guests
and organizers were moved into a secure room by the

The event had created controversy prior to its execution with
some seeing it as an attack on Islam. The event’s organizers said
they are exercising the right to freedom of speech, according to
the Dallas News.

The shootings allegedly
took place just before 7:00 pm local time, when the event was
about to conclude, shortly after the last speaker had finished
his presentation.

Additional police forces had already been deployed to the Curtis
Culwell Center at the time of the incident to provide security
because of the controversy of the event. However, no protests were taking
place prior to the event, and neither were there threats of any
imminent attacks reported.

Texas governor, Greag Abbott, meanwhile issued a statement saying
that authorities are trying to figure out what caused the
“senseless” attack. He expressed his condolences and thanked the
policemen for “quickly” resolving the situation.

“It is a terrible thing people in America today think, ‘well
they told us that they would kill us if we draw cartoons, so we
[had] better not draw cartoons!’”
Robert Spencer, one of the
organizers said during the event. “No…that is when we have
to draw cartoons!”

“We were aware of the threats. We were aware of the
difficulties. We have paid tens of thousands of dollars for
security for this. And you saw the massive security measures that
there are in place,”
Spencer said about an hour ahead of the

READ MORE: NYC judge lets through
anti-Palestinian ‘killing Jews’ ad as ‘freedom of speech’

One of the organizers, Pamela Geller, was “known to make
anti-Muslim statements,”
and is notorious for arguing in
courts the idea of placing anti-Muslim ads around New York, Al
Jazeera reports.

In her tweets after the shooting, Geller said that what has
occurred in Texas was “a war on free speech.”

The American Freedom Defence Initiative was allowed by a federal
court to display its ad campaign on New York’s Metropolitan
Transportation Authority buses. Some online comments have
suggested that the shooting might be linked to this particular ad
campaign. Similar campaigns have also taken place in Washington

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