NBC News is reporting two suspects dead and a security guard wounded at a so-called "free speech" event in Garland, Texas. The event was sponsored by Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative.
Two suspects were killed and a security guard was shot outside a “Draw Muhammad” contest in Garland, Texas, police told NBC News.
Police initially said a police officer was shot, but they later revised that to identify the victim as a security guard. The event was heavily policed with up to 40 extra officers assigned at a cost of $10,000 to the organizers, according to published reports.
The contest was described as a “free speech” event by its sponsor, the American Freedom Defense Initiative. It offered a $10,000 top prize and featured Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who is known for his anti-Muslim views, as its speaker.
The shooting began about 7 p.m., around the time the event was finishing up.
“Right when we were beginning to drive away, we heard gunshots,” Cynthia Belisle, who attended the event with a friend, told NBC News. “We thought they were fireworks, but they were not.”
Belisle said that dozens of cops sprang into action and that she was told to stay put.
She said she heard a second round of shooting and saw police rushing toward the far end of the parking lot with arms drawn.
More from The Dallas Morning News:
Reports of the incident began to develop shortly before 7 p.m., when the event had been scheduled to conclude. A speaker had finished his presentation shortly after 6:30 p.m. Throughout the event, there had been no notable protests, despite its controversial nature.
Opponents had said the American Freedom Defense Initiative's Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest on Sunday would be an attack on Islam. But its organizers said they were simply exercising their right of expression.
The New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative was hosting a contest that would award $10,000 for the best cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad at the venue. Caricatures of the Islamic prophet are considered offensive by many Muslims.
The American Freedom Defense Initiative paid an additional $10,000 upfront for 40 officers to work security at the event. The group's president, Pamela Gellar, called it "the high cost of freedom."
Update: And then there's this;