GARLAND, Texas – The first police officer making contact with the shooters stopped both gunmen from penetrating the outer perimeter. Garland police executed a carefully planned response to stop the threat and protect the lives of the nearly two hundred people who attended the Mohammad Art Exhibit and Contest held Sunday evening in the city located northeast of Dallas.
“They were there to shoot people,” said Garland Police Public Information Officer Joe Harn speaking of the gunmen. Harn spoke to reporters in a press conference Monday morning. He said the car pulled up to a Garland police vehicle that was blocking the west entrance of the parking lot. They two suspects stepped out of their vehicle and opened fire without warning.
Harn said the Garland police officer and the Garland Independent School District unarmed school security officer stepped out of their patrol car as the vehicle approached. As the suspects opened fire, the security officer was struck in the lower leg.
The police officer returned fire with his service weapon, a pistol. He stopped both suspects who were firing multiple rounds in his direction before they could move away from their vehicle.
The suspects were wearing some type of body armor, Harn said.
Investigators are searching social media and other intelligence sources to determine motives of the attack. Darn told the media it did not appear the gunmen said anything before they began shooting.
The officer who stopped the shooters was described as a tenured traffic officer. He was not a member of the SWAT team that was on the scene.
Plans from the Garland Police Department were developed earlier this year after the school district notified them of the event. Darn said the district adopted their entire security plan and that plan worked.
Pamela Geller, organizer for the event, paid $10,000 for the extra security, Harn confirmed.
Police are not yet calling the incident a terror event. Darn said they have not ruled it out either.
Darn reiterated the performance and skills of the responding officer. He said the officer was taking incoming fire from two suspects wearing body armor and shooting assault rifles. He was armed with a pistol. Despite that, he was able to stop the shooters before they could get away from their vehicle and attack the attendees.
“They were not able to get past our outer perimeter,” Harn said. “Both men died in the street.”
No bombs were found. He said investigators acted with an abundance of caution because of the history of events like this.
The FBI forensics team is working closely with Garland PD investigators to gather evidence. Harn expects that portion of the investigation to wrap up this afternoon or early this evening.
Another press event is scheduled for 3 p.m. CDT.
Breitbart Texas will update this article with more information as it becomes available.
This article has been updated with additional comments from the press conference.