Security officer shot during attack on free speech event in Garland, Texas

This story broke last night, but some details still remain up in the air this morning. A free speech event organized by conservative writer Pamela Geller in Garland, Texas came under attack yesterday evening when two armed men opened fire on a security officer. (There are dozens of updates available at Atlas Shrugs, linked in the previous sentence.) Shortly after the attack began, the shooters ran into Texas law enforcement who provided a short, terminal lesson in what happens when you try something like this in the Lone Star State.

A search for explosives continued into the night Sunday after two men were shot and killed outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

The event took place at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

The two suspects drove up and opened fire near the center hitting a Garland ISD officer. Garland Police shot and killed the two men.

There is one bit of good news coming out of the incident. The security officer who was attacked, Bruce Joiner, was treated at a local hospital for a gunshot wound to the leg and released. He is expected to make a full recovery. The shooters… not so much.

While it’s an initial report and will need further confirmation, ABC News is reporting that one of the shooters has been identified. It’s somebody well known to the FBI and the author of some social media postings about a potential attack. His name is Elton Simpson.

One of the suspects in the shooting in Garland, Texas, late Sunday has been identified as Elton Simpson, an Arizona man who was previously the subject of a terror investigation, according to a senior FBI official.

Overnight and today FBI agents and a bomb squad were at Simpson’s home in an apartment complex in north Phoenix where a robot is believed to be conducting an initial search of the apartment.

Officials believe Simpson is the person who sent out several Twitter messages prior to the attack on Sunday, in the last one using the hashtag #TexasAttack about half an hour before the shooting.

The FBI said they are looking through a list of Simpson’s known associates to possibly identify the second shooter. The lack of confirmed details about the attackers at the time of this writing is due to a proper abundance of caution on the part of investigators. As of this morning, the bodies of the attackers are still right where they fell, in close proximity to the vehicle they used. Police are concerned that there may be explosives (either in the car, on the bodies or in the surrounding area) and a thorough investigation is ongoing to avoid any further injury.

So far, the police are being careful to say that they can’t confirm a connection between the Geller event and the attack, which is fairly standard. No matter how obvious it looks to observers, (and let’s face it… it defies credulity to imagine this was some random shooting) they’ll want to make sure they have their ducks in a row and don’t get ahead of themselves. But while we don’t have confirmation, it’s not difficult to imagine what was behind this. A number of Twitter messages were discovered (in addition to the ones from Simpson) from Islamic – and possibly ISIS related – sources which hinted at the coming attack. The subject of the event was a contest for artists creating displays which depict the Prophet Muhammad, a topic which has drawn terrorist attacks in the past. We’re going to have to wait, possibly for quite a while, before any definite conclusions can be drawn as to whether the shooters cooked up this plot on their own or if there are co-conspirators out there waiting to be discovered.

Once they clear the scene of potential explosives we’ll probably learn more, including the identity of the second shooter, and we’ll update this post at that time. (Unless the news is significant enough to merit a separate post.) In the meantime, this video provides some of the early, local coverage.

Stay tuned.

Update (Ed): It’s still a little early to reach solid conclusions about what happened last night, but the reaction to it was telling. Many of the “#JeSuisCharlie” crowd suddenly seemed a lot less supportive when it appeared that someone other than French cynics got attacked for drawing cartoons of Mohammed. Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer may be provocative, but they have the same free-speech rights as Charb did — and in fact, Americans are supposed to support free speech even more. Aren’t we?