A police officer directs the evacuation of attendees of the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, after a shooting outside the Curtis Culwell Center where the event was held in Garland, Texas, on Sunday.  Picture: REUTERS
A police officer directs the evacuation of attendees of the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, after a shooting outside the Curtis Culwell Center where the event was held in Garland, Texas, on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS

DALLAS — One of the gunmen at Sunday’s attack at an exhibition of Prophet Mohammed caricatures has been identified.

Citing a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) official, ABC News on Monday identified him as Elton Simpson, an Arizona man previously the target of a terrorism investigation. FBI agents and a bomb squad were searching Mr Simpson’s Phoenix home overnight, the agency said.

While there was no claim of responsibility for Sunday’s failed assault in Dallas, caricatures of Mohammed have previously inspired attacks by gunmen with extremist Islamist views.

Terrorism monitoring group SITE reported that a known member of the Islamic State jihadist group had boasted the attack was carried out by supporters of the hardline movement.

An ABC news affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona, citing an FBI official, said agents had raided an apartment thought to belong to one of the gunmen, who was identified as Mr Simpson.

Mr Simpson, the FBI told ABC, had previously been the subject of a terrorism investigation and was suspected of sending a Tweet marked "#TexasAttack" before the shooting.

Commentators were quick to draw parallels to a January shooting at the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris that killed 12 people.

US authorities are investigating and police said it was still unclear whether the attack was related to the event. The White House said President Barack Obama had been briefed.

A group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative — which is listed by civil rights watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center and an anti-Muslim hate group — organised the event in a suburb of Dallas.

Reuters, AFP

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