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Police Near Dallas Kill 2 Armed Men At Muhammad Cartoon Contest

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are still trying to learn more about a deadly shooting in Texas last night. What we know is that there was an event, a contest near Dallas where people were drawing the Prophet Muhammad. Outside, two men opened fire. The two men were shot and killed by police. Let's keep in mind what we still don't know. The authorities have not publicly identified the gunmen or suggested what their motive might have been. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: The event was a contest for cartoons and caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad organized by a New York-based group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative. The organization has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The event in the Dallas suburb of Garland offered a $10,000 top prize for the best cartoon or caricature of the prophet and featured a speech by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, famous for his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Organizers had hired 40 off-duty police and security officers, including some members of the local SWAT team in anticipation of the possibility of trouble. The evening, billed as a free-speech promotion, was nearing its end when two men drove up to the building and opened fire, wounding a security guard in the leg. The assailants were engaged immediately by law enforcement in a gunfight and shot dead in the parking lot. A webcast of the event showed a man dressed in military fatigues taking the stage afterwards to address the assembled.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We are going to move you all into the auditorium here in just a minute. I just need everybody to remain calm, become orderly and we're going to take you into the auditorium a little further away from the front of this building, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Were the suspects Muslim?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I have no idea right now.

GOODWYN: Pamela Geller, the leader of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which also goes by the name Stop Islamization of America, said afterwards that the shooting demonstrated how much her event was needed. This is a war, Geller wrote on her website. This is a war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters? The war is here. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn
Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.