Two people were fatally shot Sunday outside a Garland, Texas, community center that was hosting an event displaying cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, local officials said.
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Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said that two men drove up to the community center and "opened fire on the security officers" hired to protect the event before being shot themselves.
Neither of the suspects have been identified because their bodies remain on the street where they were shot as police teams are using robots to see if the car they pulled up in was rigged with explosives. Harn said that the bodies will be cleared once the vehicle is checked for potential explosives. Precautionary detonations could be heard overnight, as police continued to assess the crime scene.
One unarmed security guard from the local school district, which owns the community center where the event was held, was shot in the ankle but his injuries are said to be non-life threatening, according to Harn. Other Garland police officers who were on the scene were the ones who fatally shot the two suspects.
The controversial event, where attendees competed to draw the prophet Mohammed, which is explicitly banned in Islam and seen as a sign of grave disrespect, was hosted by a conservative anti-Islam group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative.
Harn said that police have been monitoring the lead-up to the event "for several months" and while he said there was no immediate credible threat before the shooting, organizers "luckily" decided to hire extra security because of the controversy.
The shooting lasted "seconds," Harn said, and took place shortly before 7:00 p.m., not long before the event was set to end. Approximately 200 people attended the event, police say. The center was put on lockdown immediately after the shooting.
Harn said that both suspects had guns though police do not know what specific type because they have not secured the guns as they wait for the search for explosives in the car to be completed first.
Two senior law enforcement officials told ABC News that authorities will work vigorously over the next 12 hours to determine who the dead suspects are and whether the incident is directly tied to the conference. The FBI is already on the scene and have said that they have provided investigative and bomb technician assistance.
Texas governor Greg Abbott released a statement following the shooting, saying that there is an active investigation underway "to determine the cause and scope of the senseless attack in Garland, Texas."
"This is a crime that was quickly ended thanks to the swift action by Garland law enforcement," he said in the statement.
Businesses around the center, including Academy Sports, Walmart and Sam's, were evacuated, the city said. Harn said that no nearby residents were evacuated from their homes.
The event, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, featured scheduled speakers including Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who has campaigned to have the Quran banned in the Netherlands. The winner of the contest was to receive $10,000.
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