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Police kill two gunmen at a Texas exhibit featuring caricatures of the prophet Muhammad

AP Photo/LM Otero
An armed police officer stands guard in Garland.
By Adam Pasick
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

This post has been updated.

Two men drove up to a Garland, Texas event featuring drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad on Sunday evening and opened fire, injuring a security guard before they were killed by police who were providing security at the exhibit.

The identities of the gunmen have not been released by authorities. The security guard was later released from the hospital after his wounds were treated.

“Police suspect the vehicle may contain an incendiary device and the bomb squad is on the scene,” the city of Garland, which is northeast of Dallas, said in a statement. Attendees and surrounding businesses were evacuated.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), also known as Stop Islamization of America, which organized the exhibit, has been deemed an anti-Muslim hate group by critics. Its co-founder, the controversial activist Pamela Geller, was barred from entering the United Kingdom in 2013. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has campaigned against Muslim immigration, was a featured speaker at the Texas event.

“We are here in defiance of Islam to stand for our rights and freedom of speech,” Wilders said, shortly before the attack took place, according to the Morning News. He added: ”The less Islam the better.”

AFDI offered a $10,000 award to the best cartoon depicting Muhammad, a contest that the group said was a rallying call for free speech. Following the attack, Geller said the shooting was proof of how “needed our event really was.” Depictions of the prophet Muhammad are considered offensive by many Muslims.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the event was booked only about a week after the January terrorist attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was targeted for its own satirical drawings and writings about Islam. The city’s school district was criticized after a Muslim group booked the same facility for a post-Charlie Hebdo event in January entitled “Stand With the Prophet in Honor and Respect.”

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