On Saturday, two suspects were killed, while an officer was wounded outside the Curtis Culwell Center where the inaugural Muhammad Cartoon Exhibit and Cartoon Contest organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) was taking place.
Joe Harn, Garland police spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times, “This is still an active scene.” He added that a vehicle had been spotted at the scene of the crime, and that it was being investigated.
Members in attendance were moved to another room. An announcement issued by authorities on Sunday said the people would be taken to a nearby high school.
According to Randy Potts, a contributing editor for the Daily Beast, around 200 people were in audience. He said he was about to depart when “guys rushed up to us yelling, ‘Get back to the conference room!’”
The police gathered outside the auditorium to investigate what happened. The people were urged to go back inside.
Potts and Harn said there was tight security at the venue before the shooting started.
Potts told The Times, “The security, as you can imagine, is pretty extensive.
“Even before we came … maybe 50 to 100 feet away from the building, all around, was all blocked off.”
According to USA Today, an AFDI release said, “Images of Islam’s prophet, both historic and contemporary, and speeches by leading voices of freedom and internationally renowned free speech advocates” were featured at the event.
“Brave artists who are unbowed by violent threats and determined to stand for the freedom of speech” were to speak at the event, the release also stated.
According to New York Post, such illustrations are considered highly demeaning and have elicited outrage from Islamic communities around the world. Any physical depiction of the Prophet Muhammad is deemed blasphemous in Islam.
In January, the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had ridiculed Islam and posted depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, came under attack by gunmen. In the subsequent firing, 12 people lost their lives.
You might also be interested in: Woman Threatens To Kill White Cops In Facebook Post, Gets Arrested