2 Armed Men Killed After Shooting Outside Muhammad Cartoon Contest
Updated 4 a.m. ET Monday:
NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports: Organizers of the contests for cartoons and caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad had hired 40 off-duty police and security officers — including some members of local SWAT teams — in anticipation of the possibility of trouble. The evening, billed as a free-speech promotion, was nearing its end when two unidentified men drove up to the building and opened fire, wounding a security guard in the leg. The assailants were engaged immediately by law enforcement in a gunfight and shot dead in the parking lot.
The Associated Press reports that the injured guard has been treated and released from a local hospital.
Two armed men opened fire on a security officer outside a controversial contest for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, authorities say, and were subsequently shot and killed by police.
The shooting occurred in Garland, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, on Sunday night. The security officer's injuries are not life-threatening, the city of Garland said in a statement on its Facebook page.
"Police suspect the vehicle may contain an incendiary device and the bomb squad is on the scene," the city's statement continues.
The city does not say whether the shooting was related to the cartoon contest, but notes that it occurred in front of the Curtis Culwell Center, where the event was happening.
The Associated Press provides some context:
"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.
"Such drawings are deemed insulting 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 respectful one — is considered blasphemous."
The , as the organization is also known, is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group.
The AP spoke with Pamela Geller, the president of the organization, before Sunday's event; she said the cartoon contest was planned in response to prior violence over drawings of Muhammad.
"Though it remained unclear several hours after the shooting whether it was related to the event, she said that the shooting showed how 'needed our event really was,' " the wire service reports.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.