HOUSTON – Two gunmen were killed after they opened fire Sunday outside an event hosted by an anti-Islam group in Garland, Texas, featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, local officials said. According to the authorities, the two assailants shot a private security guard and were, in turn, shot and killed by police officers.
Officials did not give the identities of the gunmen or the security officer and did not assign a motive for the attack.
The shooting began shortly before 7 p.m. outside the Curtis Culwell Center, where organizers were hosting the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, an event run by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a New York-based anti-Islamist organization.
The city of Garland confirmed the incident in a Facebook posting.
“As today’s Muhammad Art Exhibit event at the Curtis Culwell Center was coming to an end, two males drove up to the front of the building in a car. Both males were armed and began shooting at a Garland I.S.D. security officer.”
The Facebook posting said that the officer had been struck, but that his “injuries are not life-threatening.”
“Garland police officers engaged the gunmen, who were both shot and killed,” the Facebook posting said.
The police, fearing that the gunmen’s car might contain an explosive device, sent a bomb squad to the scene and evacuated the events center and nearby businesses, including a Wal-Mart.
The event included a contest for the best caricature of the prophet Mohammed, with a $10,000 prize for the winning piece.
Drawings of the prophet are considered offensive in most interpretations of Islam. In January, gunmen in Paris attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical news magazine known for printing caricatures of the prophet Mohammed, killing 12 people.
The venue hosting Sunday’s event is a 6,800-seat arena that is used by basketball teams in the Garland Independent School District. For private events, it requires organizers to hire private security. The Dallas Morning News reported that in the case of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, local authorities required the group to pay $10,000 for 40 extra security officers.