Two shot and killed at ‘Muhammad Art, Cartoon Contest’ in Texas

Posted at 9:48 PM, May 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-03 21:48:58-04

Two men who opened fire outside a contest for Prophet Mohammad cartoons in a Dallas suburb were shot dead by police Sunday night, authorities said.

The men began shooting at a security officer as the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” at the Culwell Event Center in North Garland was coming to an end, the city’s Facebook page said.

The security guard was shot in the leg and taken to a local hospital. His condition is unknown.

FBI and local officials were checking on the gunmen’s vehicle for explosives, a law enforcement official told CNN. The area around the center was blocked off.

Surrounding businesses, including a Walmart, were evacuated, as were attendees from the Curtis Culwell Center.

CNN producer Chris Lett, who was covering the event, said there were about 40 people at the event when police announced there had been a shooting.

 The event, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, claimed to have received “over 350 submissions of Muhammad cartoons from all over the world.”

The president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller, is “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

Geller took to her own website shortly after the incident,writing, “This is a war. This is war on free speech.”

Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders was the keynote speaker at the event.

In 2011, Wilders was cleared on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred over a controversial film he made about Islam.

Wilders’ film “Fitna,” which he released online in March 2008 to international outcry, features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in an apparent attempt to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.