Two armed men who opened fire on a security officer outside of an event in which they were holding a contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad have been killed. This was confirmed by authorities in the Dallas suburb of Garland Sunday night.
After the incident, the City of Garland said in a statement posted on its Facebook page Sunday night that two men showed up to the Curtis Culwell Center and opened fire on a security officer standing outside.
Garland Police Department officers came to the scene and stopped the gunmen, who were both shot and killed, the statement said.
The statement posted on Facebook did not say if the shooting was related to the provocative event. The security officer who was shot at does not have serious injuries.
Bomb Squad Called In
The gunmen’s vehicle may contain an “incendiary device,” according to the statement. A bomb squad was immediately called to the scene, and all people around the area were quickly evacuated.
Police blocked off a large area around the center Sunday night. The authorities were all over the scene, and three helicopters were watching the place from above.
The New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative had been hosting a contest at the center that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Some organizations have classified the people that hosted the event as a hate group.
The drawings are considered an insult to many followers of Islam and have sparked violence around the world. According to mainstream Islamic tradition, any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, even a serious and respectful one, is not welcomed.
As the incident happened, about 75 attendees at the controversial contest were escorted by authorities to another room in the conference center. They were then taken to a separate location, where an Associated Press reporter was told they could not leave until FBI agents arrived to question them.
Johnny Roby of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was attending the conference. He told the Associated Press he was outside the building when he heard the shots coming from a moving car. Roby then heard a couple of more shots. He heard the officers say they had the car before he was told to go inside the building.
Pamela Geller, president of the AFDI, told the media before the event took place that she planned the contest to make a stand for free speech in response to the recent killings and violence over drawings of Muhammad.
Back in January, 12 people were killed by gunmen in an attack against the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had published many drawings about Islam and Muhammad in the past. Most of the people involved in the massacre have been captured.
Authorities still don’t know if the shooting was related but Geller said a few hours after the incident that the shooting showed how “needed our event really was.”
Geller and her group are known for opposing against the building of an Islamic center blocks from the World Trade Center site and for buying advertising space around the United States to criticize Islam.