Garland, Texas — People from all over the country were invited to participate in a “Mohammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” event set for the Curtis Culwell Event Center in Garland, Texas. Two men. allegedly pro-ISIS fighters, drove up to the gathering of about 200 people and began shooting at as the event was ending on Sunday. Police immediately fired back, killing the two men.
As the men jumped from their car and began firing, the first one was shot immediately by police on duty at the event, the other one was wounded, but tried to reach into his backpack and officers shot him again. Both gunmen were dead at the scene.
One unarmed security guard, Bruce Joiner, was shot, but only hit in the ankle. He has been treated and released.
Because of the nature of the event and the gunmen’s attack, police cordoned off the area and the vehicle to search for explosives.
Police evacuated surrounding businesses, including a Walmart, as a precaution. Police did not remove the bodies until the vehicle was checked for bombs.
The suspects- ISIS claims responsibility
The Daily Mail wrote,
A senior FBI official has identified one of the men as Elton Simpson, who was previously the subject of a terror investigation, according to ABC News.
Simpson, identified in court papers as an American Muslim, had been convicted of lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Somalia five years ago, but a judge ultimately ruled it could not be proved that he was heading there to join a terror group. He was placed on probation.
After his identity emerged, FBI agents and a bomb squad swarmed Simpson’s apartment in north Phoenix, Arizona and used a robot to carry out the first sweep of his home, the channel reported. The second gunman’s identity is not yet known.
The Associated Press wrote,
About 75 attendees were taken to another room. Later, a group of 48 people were escorted to a school bus. Authorities told attendees they would be taken to a nearby high school. A second group was set to be moved shortly after.
Johnny Roby of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was attending the conference. He told the AP he was outside the building when he heard around about 20 shots that appeared to be coming from the direction of a car passing by.
Roby said he then heard two single shots.
He said he heard officers yell that they had the car before he was sent inside the building.
The event coordinators, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, chose the Culwell Event Center because that’s where Muslims held an event in 2014. The prize for the best cartoon of Mohammad was $10,000. The group had received about 350 submissions. Pamela Geller, and Geert Wilders were two of the scheduled speakers. But everyone was ready.
“We were prepared for something like this.” Police spokesperson.
Security at the event was tight, and only people who had purchased tickets in advance were allowed into the venue. Metal detectors at the doors were in place to prelude something like the Charlie Hebdo incident in France. Numerous officers were assigned to the event, and the event coordinators hired more. Their preparations may have saved many lives.
No intimidation allowed
ISIS sympathizers conducted the attack on the event. But even “mainstream” Muslims believe that cartoons or any art form depicting Mohammad is blasphemy. Shooting at people over cartoons or any other form of art is a ridiculous attempt to intimidate and restrict freedom. Let’s not let them intimidate us. America is not Syria or Iraq or even France. Police are NOT unarmed in the United States…and it was TEXAS, after all.