wo people were shot and killed by police outside of an event billed as the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas, Sunday night, according to Garland Mayor Douglas Athas.
According to the City of Garland Facebook’s page, “two males drove up to the front of the building in a car,” as the event was coming to an end. “Both males were armed and began shooting at a Garland … security officer. Garland Police officers engaged the gunmen, who were both shot and killed. ”
A law enforcement official tells CNN the two men were using automatic weapons.
Athas said the security guard was shot in the leg and transported to a local hospital. His condition is unknown.
CNN producer Chris Lett, who was covering the event, said there were about 40 people gathered when police announced there had been a shooting.
Authorities are investigating whether explosives were involved.
“Police suspect the vehicle may contain an incendiary device and the bomb squad is on the scene,” according to Garland Facebook’s page.
The event, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, claimed to have received “over 350 submissions of Muhammad cartoons from all over the world.”
The president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, Pamela Geller, is “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.
Geller took to her own website shortly after the incident,writing, “This is a war. This is war on free speech.”
Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders was the keynote speaker at the event.
In 2011, Wilders was cleared on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred over a controversial film he made about Islam.
Wilders’ film “Fitna,” which he released online in March 2008 to international outcry, features disturbing images of terrorist acts superimposed over verses from the Quran in an apparent attempt to paint Islam as a threat to Western society.
Athas told CNN that there was a significant police presence at the exhibit and that it was “secured event.”
The FBI is monitoring the incident and stands ready to assist should the need arise, a law enforcement official said.
Vivian Kuo, Janet DiGiacomo, Chris Lett and Holly Yan contributed to this report.