The bodies of two gunmen who opened fire outside an event hosted by an anti-Islamic organization in the US state of Texas remained on the pavement near their vehicle early Monday as local authorities investigated a possible explosive device in the car.
Police in Garland, a suburb of Dallas, shot and killed the two men Sunday evening after they opened fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center where a contest was being held to draw the Prophet Mohammed, the Dallas Morning News reported.
The identities of the gunmen had not yet been released.
Police “could take several more hours” to clear the vehicle, according to a tweet from the Dallas Fort Worth Scanner, an app that monitors police, fire and EMS radio dispatches in northern Texas.
Bruce Joiner, an unarmed security officer outside the Curtis Culwell Center, was shot and treated for an ankle wound but released Sunday night, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“We beefed up security with this [event] and … it’s paid off that we did that,” Garland police spokesman Joe Harn told NBC’s Dallas Fort Worth affiliate.
The centre had been placed under lock-down as SWAT teams attempted to secure the premises, and some 200 attendees were later evacuated under armed escort.
Nearby businesses, including major chain stores, were evacuated amid reports of possible explosives in the area, CBS reported.
Dutch parliamentarian and far-right political party leader Geert Wilders delivered the keynote address at the “Draw the Prophet” event, which offered a 10,000-dollar top prize.
“We are here in defiance of Islam,” Wilders said during the event. “We are here to defend our rights and stand for freedom of speech.”
“Mohammed fought and terrorized people with the sword,” the Dutch politician said. “We fight Mohammed and his followers with the pen. And the pen will prove mightier than the sword.”
“Mohammed’s followers fight us with bloodbaths, but today here in Garland we fight them with humor,” Wilders added.
The event was hosted by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an organization opposing the “Islamization” of Western society.
According to the Dallas report, AFDI paid an additional 10,000 dollars for 40 police officers to work security at the event.
“This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?” event organizer and AFDI President Pamela Geller wrote on her website after the shooting.
In January gunmen in Paris attacked the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had regularly featured depictions of Mohammed.