A search for explosives continues after two men were shot and killed outside of a deliberately controversial contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad Sunday night.
That event was sponsored by Pamela Geller whose American Freedom Defense Initiative is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. She also runs another group, Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), which is also listed as a hate group.
Two suspects drove up and opened fire near the center, hitting a Garland ISD officer.
Garland police shot and killed the two male suspects.
FBI agents are now searching a home in Phoenix that they say belongs to one of the suspects, Elton Simpson, 30.
Simpson was convicted in a terror investigation five years ago, but was given probation.
Simpson is believed to be the man who tweeted several messages before the Garland incident using the hashtag #texasattack.
Back in Garland, multiple SWAT teams and an FBI bomb squad were searching the suspects’ vehicle for bombs overnight.
“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 bomb,” said Garland police officer Joe Harn said Sunday night.
News 8 crews at the scene reported a loud boom just before midnight, but there was no confirmation that a bomb was detonated. Two more explosions were heard overnight.
Harn described the search as “precaution.” Police had not identified the suspects because their bodies were near the vehicle in question….
The Garland ISD officer, identified as Bruce Joiner, was shot in the lower leg and suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to a spokesman for Garland police. He has been released from a local hospital.
Geller referred to it as a “free speech event” on Twitter. After the attack, she tweeted, “this is a war.”
Approximately 200 people attended the event.
Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement on the shooting Sunday:
“Texas officials are actively investigating to determine the cause and scope of the senseless attack in Garland, Texas. This is a crime that was quickly ended thanks to the swift action by Garland law enforcement. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all those affected tonight.”
Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, National Vice President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, also released a statement:
“Violence is never an acceptable response to hate speech, no matter how inflammatory and uncivilized that speech is. While we do not yet know what motivated these shooters, we urge calm and defer to local, state, and federal authorities to peaceably and justly resolve this.”
ISIS followers were calling for attacks leading up to the Garland event, according to ABC.
“The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It’s time for brothers in the US to do their part,” one supporter wrote.
“Brothers in Garland Texas Please go to there with your weapons, bombs or with your knives. Threaten your enemies & the enemies of Allaah,” another wrote last week.
Security for the event ran upwards of $30,000, obviously knowing full well it could provoke violence. If you poke a rattlesnake, it’s going to bite you.
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