From RT New

Two armed suspects have been shot in a parking lot outside a venue in Garland, Texas that was hosting a Mohammed art exhibit dedicated to free speech, SWAT has confirmed. At least one of the suspects allegedly had a hand grenade.

At least one of the attackers was armed with an automatic gun and was carrying a grenade, according to media reports. One officer was wounded in his leg during the shootout, but is expected to recover, CBS reports.

People inside the exhibition center have been advised to stay indoors, while the nearby Walmart was evacuated.

Channel 8 reporter on the scene, Jobin Panicker, is reporting that initially the crowd heard 3-4 gunshots. A further exchange of gunfire followed after a brief pause.

The Curtis Culwell Center was hosting the first annual Mohammad Art Exhibit and Contest, a controversial “free speech” event that offered a $10,000 prize for the best cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative event was being broadcast live on YouTube, when a SWAT member burst in telling the crowd that two suspects had been shot, reports. He said they were concerned that the gunmen may have also had explosives.

The event was interrupted and guests and organizers were moved into a secure room by the authorities.

The event had created controversy prior to its execution with some seeing it as an attack on Islam. The event’s organizers said they are exercising the right to freedom of speech, according to the Dallas News.

The shootings allegedly took place just before 7:00pm local time, when the event was about to conclude, shortly after the last speaker had finished his presentation.

Additional police forces had already been deployed to the Curtis Culwell Center at the time of the incident to provide security because of the controversy of the event. However, no protests were taking place prior to the event, and neither were there threats of any imminent attacks reported.

“It is a terrible thing people in America today think, ‘well they told us that they would kill us if we draw cartoons, so we [had] better not draw cartoons!’” Robert Spencer, one of the organizers said during the event. “No…that is when we have to draw cartoons!”

“We were aware of the threats. We were aware of the difficulties. We have paid tens of thousands of dollars for security for this. And you saw the massive security measures that there are in place,” Spencer said about an hour ahead of the incident.

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