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Texas police deny specific threat warning from FBI at cartoon contest shooting

By Danielle Haynes

GARLAND, Texas, May 11 (UPI) -- Police received no credible terror threat notice from the FBI prior to two gunmen opening fire at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest, Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates said Monday.

FBI Director James Comey last week said the bureau alerted Garland police about Elton Simpson, one of the two men accused of an attack at the Curtis Culwell center where a "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" was taking place. He said the FBI gave local law enforcement a list of people who had shown interest in the event about three hours prior to its start.

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In a news conference Monday, Bates said the bulletin was one of many the Garland Police Department regularly receives and it did not specifically mention the cartoon contest.

"We had no information from the FBI or anyone else that Elton Simpson posed a threat to our event," he said. "There is a little miscommunication as to the term 'bulletin' and what it means.

"It was not intended to inform us or make us aware that Mr. Simpson was potentially targeting this event. He was simply one of many, many individuals they had looked at."

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Bates said the officers providing security at the center were not aware of the bulletin, and in fact the email the department received with information about Simpson wasn't read until after the event.

"Please note that the contents of that email would not have prevented the shooting, nor would it have changed the law enforcement response in any fashion," Bates said.

There were at least 40 Garland police officers providing security at the event, including SWAT and bomb teams. That's up from the two to four officers normally on hand at events of this size. Pamela Geller, the woman who organized the event, said she paid $10,000 to have extra security on hand at the event due to threats made against those in attendance in the past.

Simpson and his roommate Nadir Soofi, both of Phoenix, were killed May 3 after they allegedly opened fire outside the Garland Independent School District's Curtis Culwell Center.

The gunmen reportedly got out of the car and shot a security guard in the ankle before they were shot and killed by police. The security guard, 62-year-old Bruce Joiner, was taken to the hospital and later released.

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The FBI was aware of Simpson because he had allegedly had private and public communications with Muhammed Abdullahi Hassan, an American-born militant who traveled to Somalia to join the al-Shabab terror group, and Jenaid Hussein, a British-born militant with ties to the Islamic State. IS -- also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL -- claimed responsibility for the Garland attack.

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