News & Politics

One of the Dead Shooters in Texas Has Been Identified—Here's What We Know About Him

Unfortunately, the shootings played right into rabid anti-Islamist Pamela Geller's hands.

Elton Simpson
Photo Credit: via YouTube/ABCNews

One of the two gunmen killed after opening fire at an event Sunday night in Garland, Tex., where cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad were featured, has been identified as Elton Simpson of Phoenix, The New York Times reports.

Officials are not sure what the motive was behind the attack was. What is known about Elton so far is that federal prosecutors charged him with traveling to Somalia“for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad” and lying to a federal agent. He was found guilty of lying to a federal agent but a judge ruled that the government couldn’t prove he was going to engage in terrorist acts. Simpson was sentenced to three years probation and reportedly placed on the 'no-fly' list.

The event, organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Islamic group started by rabid anti-Muslim Pamela Geller, started at 7 p.m. Sunday night. The organization also uses the name  Stop Islamization of America and is based in New York. The event included a contest that awarded $10,000 for the best caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. Simpson and another man opened fire on a security guard, Bruce Joiner, soon after the event started, hitting the man in the ankle. Garland police returned fire, killing Simpson and the other suspect. Joiner was taken to the hospital and released.

Law enforcement officials searched the scene for bombs but did not find any, according to CNN.

Both Simpson’s body, as well as that of the other unidentified shooting suspect, were still lying where they fell Sunday night welll into Monday. 

A sampling of Geller's view on Muslims was when she told the New York Times, in 2010, that she doesn’t “believe in the idea of a moderate Muslim. I do not believe in the idea of a moderate Islam” and that a “moderate Muslim is a secular Muslim.”

Local police say they aren’t sure if the shooting was connected to the cartoons, but Geller said it was.

“The Islamic jihadis are determined to suppress our freedom of speech violently,” she told The Post.

Officially, no one knows anything about the motivations behind Simpson's nor the other gunman’s attack, although speculation is flying about the shooters being urged on by ISIS.

Investigators are searching Simpson’s apartment, in Phoenix, Ariz., for clues in connection to the shooting and determining whether his roommate, who has not been identified, was involved in the shooting.

Kristina Sitton, who represented Simpson during his trial  in 2010, told ABC News that she saw her former client as "harmless."

"He grew up the most normal guy. Just a normal high school guy... Converting to Islam seemed like a good thing for him,” she said. “He had been going down a bad path and then he found Islam. He never struck me as someone who would do this sort of thing. I'm not a bleeding heart, I'm a Republican. I've seen some pretty bad guys and he seemed pretty normal."




Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.

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