Police in Texas Kill Gunmen at Exhibit Defying Islam


Two gunmen were killed after they opened fire Sunday evening outside an event hosted by an anti-Islam group in Garland, Tex., featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, local officials said. According to the authorities, the two assailants shot a private security guard and were, in turn, shot and killed by police officers.

Officials did not give the identities of the gunmen or the security officer and did not assign a motive for the attack. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the F.B.I. referred reporters’ questions to the Garland Police Department. The City of Garland confirmed the episode in a Facebook posting.

The shooting began shortly before 7 p.m. outside the Curtis Culwell Center at an event organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Islam organization based in New York.

“As today’s Muhammad Art Exhibit event at the Curtis Culwell Center was coming to an end,” the Facebook posting said, “two males drove up to the front of the building in a car. Both males were armed and began shooting at a Garland I.S.D. security officer.”

The posting said that the officer had been struck but that his “injuries are not life-threatening.” Garland police officers shot and killed the two gunmen, it said.A member of the Garland police department keeps members of the audience inside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, after reports of shots fired outside. A Dutch member of parliament and leader of the far-right Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders delivered the keynote address at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest. The art exhibit is being put on by the Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative.

The police, fearing that the gunmen’s car might contain an explosive device, dispatched a bomb squad and evacuated the center and nearby businesses, including a Walmart.

The event included a contest for the best caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, with a $10,000 top prize.

Drawings of the prophet are considered offensive in most interpretations of Islam. In January, gunmen in Paris attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newsmagazine known for printing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, killing 12 people.

A live video stream of the Garland event on the organizer’s website recorded the moment when the crowd was interrupted by a private security guard in military fatigues, who bounded onto the stage to announce that there had been a shooting outside. “Were the suspects Muslim?” a man shouted.

“I have no idea right now,” said the man in fatigues.

Pamela Geller, an outspoken anti-Islam activist and an organizer of the event, said the group decided to hold the event in the Curtis Culwell Center because members had heard that a Muslim group had conference in the same room after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris.

Ms. Geller described Sunday’s event as pro-free speech, and said that Muslims had become a “special class” that Americans were no longer allowed to offend.

“The media is self-enforcing a Sharia,” she said, referring to Islamic law. “Under the Sharia you cannot criticize or offend Islam.”


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