GARLAND, Texas (AP) — Hours before two would-be terrorists attacked a provocative Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest, the FBI sent local authorities the license plate number and photo of one of the shooters, who had a prior terrorism-related conviction, but police said Monday they didn’t see the intelligence bulletin in time.
Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates also said the FBI notice was not specific enough to have altered authorities’ response.
About 40 Garland police officers, along with members of federal and state law enforcement agencies, were guarding the May 3 event at a conference center in suburban Dallas when the attackers drove up and opened fire. Five officers responded, killing the two gunmen. One unarmed security guard was injured; no one attending the event was hurt.
Bates described the security plan, which he said took several months to create, as “an overwhelming success.”
The FBI sent the bulletin through its Dallas command post to Garland police, informing them that one of the attackers, Elton Simpson, “might be interested in going to Garland,” FBI Director James Comey told reporters in Washington on Thursday. The FBI issued the warning even though Comey said they didn’t believe Simpson had left Phoenix. An FBI spokeswoman in Dallas made the transcript of Comey’s comments available Monday.
But Bates said no one at the law enforcement command post was aware of the FBI’s bulletin on Simpson prior to the attack.
“We had no information from the FBI or anyone else that Simpson posed a threat to our event,” he said.
The FBI memo was sent to the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force, a 24-agency organization that includes one Garland police detective, Bates said. That detective, who received the bulletin via email, didn’t see it until after the event.
The police chief described the bulletin as “one of many emails sent on that day,” and his spokesman said Bates had no access to it.
The FBI routinely disseminates information about potential national security concerns to local law enforcement officials, including members of joint terrorism task forces and regional locally operated
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