CRIME

2 Men Shot Dead After Opening Fire Outside Muhammad Art Exhibit In Garland, Texas

05/03/2015 08:52 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2015

Two men were shot dead after opening fire outside an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Garland, Texas on Sunday.

The two men fired towards the Curtis Culwell Center and hit security guard Bruce Joiner, who was shot in the lower leg and suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to WFAA. NBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth reports that Joiner has already been released after being taken to a local hospital.

One of the deceased shooters was identified by CNN and ABC as Elton Simpson. According to court records reviewed by CNN, Simpson was convicted in 2011 of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism and sentenced to three years of probation.

Texas authorities declined to name either suspect in a press conference Monday morning.

The Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest was organized by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Islamic organization that is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Jobin Panicker, a reporter with WFAA, tweeted details about the incident:

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Members of the Garland Police Department stand inside the Curtis Culwell Center, Sunday, May 3, 2015, in Garland, Texas. (AP Photo Nomaan Merchant)

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Police officers stand guard at a parking lot near the Curtis Culwell Center. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The exhibit, according to CBS DFW, was organized by Geller in response to a Muslim event held earlier this year at the same venue which was meant to combat Islamophobia. A representative of the local Council of American Islamic Relations chapter spoke to the CBS affiliate in February about Geller's event:

Alia Salem of the DFW Chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations says supports free speech. “We should have free speech, and nobody’s stopping her from doing this, go ahead, maybe there’ll be some Muslims entering this, who knows.”

But Salem says she hopes the Muslim Community will ignore this event. “While it is her right, it’s not really in good taste to be honest because it’s just a shameless attempt to get a reaction out of the Muslim Community, that’s how we view it. It’s not any attempt to promote free speech.”

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) praised the police response to the shooting:

"Texas officials are actively investigating to determine the cause and scope of the senseless attack in Garland, Texas," Abbott stated. "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."

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