DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Could the Muhammad art exhibit shooting be considered a terrorist attack? “We’re certainly looking into that,” Garland PIO Joe Harn said Monday morning at a press conference. The Garland Police Department revealed that the two suspects used assault rifles, and were clad in some form of protective gear. According to Officer Harn, “I was told they had body armor.”READ MORE: Hill County Home To $2M Texas Lottery Winner
Extra ammunition was also found in the suspects’ vehicle. “Obviously, they were there to shoot people,” Harn reiterated.
Bruce Joiner, the security officer shot in the leg, was not armed. A police cruiser was parked nearby when the two suspects opened fire.
Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative – the art exhibition’s organizer – paid extra for heightened security at the event Sunday.
The FBI has identified the two suspects. Elton Simpson of Phoenix, Arizona had previous run-ins with authorities. Simpson was the subject of an FBI investigation in 2006 under the suspicion of a terror network connection. In 2010, he was sentenced to 3 years probation after lying to the bureau about plans to travel to Somalia.
Multiple sources report that Simpson’s Twitter account is @atawaakul, or “Shariah is Light.” This was posted prior to the attack:
5:30PM CT: Garland Police report that SWAT fired in addition to police officer. Authorities currently unsure of who fired the lethal shot.
5:06PM CT: DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement. In it, he urged the public not to jump to any conclusions, “We urge that members of the public not misdirect anger and suspicion at those simply because of their religious faith. The strengths and heritage of this Nation include our racial, religious and ethnic pluralism, and our acceptance and inclusiveness of others different from ourselves,” the statement reads.
5:00PM CT: The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement. In it, he said he believes “such criminal acts have nothing to do with religion or belief” and “ideas must only be defended through democratic debate and dialogue.”
3:50PM CT: Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, confirms that Elton Simpson worshipped there for about a decade.READ MORE: Tarrant County Public Health Rolls Out COVID-19 'Vaxmobile' To Underserved Communities
2:30PM CT: Sources tell the CBS news team that many attendees had their cars impounded by the FBI.
1:56PM CT: Second suspect identified as 34-year-old Nadir Soofi. He is a Phoenix native. Sources tell CBS 11 that he did not have a record prior to the shooting.
1:50PM CT: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement. In it, they say that a violent response is more insulting to the Muslim faith than any cartoon. The council said “bigoted speech” can’t be an excuse for violence.
1:01PM CT: Governor Greg Abbott released a statement: “This morning I called Mayor Athas to offer any state resources and assistance that would aid his city following this heinous attack, and praised the City of Garland’s swift and effective action to stop these gunmen and protect innocent lives. I also received a briefing from the Department of Public Safety on the latest developments regarding the actions and motivations of the shooters. I instructed Director McCraw to work with federal authorities to fully investigate the assailants’ ties to organized terrorist activity, and received assurances that DPS will continue to communicate with my office and the public as additional information can be released.”
12:50PM CT: Sources closed to the officer involved in the shooting tell CBS 11’s J.D. Miles they’re worried about retaliation.
12:00PM CT: Helicopters hover over a still very active scene outside Curtis Culwell Center.
11:45PM CT: FBI agents in Phoenix are looking at a second vehicle parked at the the suspect’s apartment unit.
11:20PM CT: A White House spokesman says the president has been informed about the Garland shootings.
10:30AM CT: Sources tell CBS that the two suspects were roommates in Phoenix.
10:00AM CT: The AP reports that Simpson is an American Muslim.
The @atawaakul Twitter account was suspended Monday morning.
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