Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is instructing state law enforcement officials to investigate the Garland, Texas, gunmen’s ties to “organized terrorism activity," he said in a statement Monday.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 4, 2015
In the statement, Abbott made clear that Texas authorities would be aiding the efforts of federal law enforcement officials.
The two men under investigation were killed after firing on police officers guarding an Islamophobic conference in Garland, Texas, on Sunday, according to the Garland Police Department. A police officer returned fire, killing both gunmen. Bruce Joiner, a Garland Independent School District security officer helping with security for the event, was shot in the ankle during the exchange of fire, according to the Garland Independent School District.
The conference, organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, included a Muhammad cartoon drawing contest. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the American Freedom Defense Initiative an “active anti-Muslim” hate group.
Abbott’s announcement comes after law enforcement officials identified the two slain gunmen as Elton Simpson of Phoenix, Arizona, and Nadir Soofi. The FBI had been monitoring Simpson due to past involvement in suspected extremist activities.
Federal prosecutors charged Simpson with attempting to travel to Somalia to engage in “violent jihad” in 2010. They were able to convict him of lying to a federal agent, but could not prove that he was attempting to engage in extremist activities.