Jurors at the trial of the third jihadi accused of helping plan an attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas were shown evidence Thursday found in the aftermath of the gunfire, including two ISIS flags.
Other items recovered from the scene of the May 3 attack in Garland, Texas, included three assault rifles, three pistols, bulletproof vests, a large supply of ammunition and a book titled, “Fortress of the Muslim.”
But the most significant piece of information to come out of the trial today was the name of the Texas hero who saved hundreds of lives: Garland Officer Gregory Stevens. The Dallas Morning News editorial board almost named Stevens Texan of the Year, but the left-wingers didn’t. Of course.
The Dallas Morning News remembered May 3, 2015, the day of jihad attack on our free speech event in Garland, as “anything other than another sleepy Sunday, if we remember it at all.” The first ISIS attack on American soil, and the Dallas News barely remembers it at all.
“For 10 months, we knew Garland cop was a terror-fighting hero; now we finally know his name,”
Mike Hashimoto, Dallas Morning News, February 18, 2016:
Not many of us remember May 3, 2015, as anything other than another sleepy Sunday, if we remember it at all.
It could have been a much different day. It could have been a day terrorism finally came to North Texas on a large and incomprehensible scale.
That didn’t happen because a lone Garland police officer — today’s embodiment of “One Riot One Ranger” — took down two heavily armed terrorists with his service Glock.
Just like that.
That Sunday didn’t end the way Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi had envisioned, with the mass murder of innocent people for the perceived offense of insulting their prophet. Instead, their lives were the only ones that ended that day, in the parking lot of Garland’s Curtis Culwell Center. Despite assault-style rifles, body armor and who-knows-what-other terror tools, their charge on a Muhammad cartoon contest didn’t make it to the front door.
In all the months that have followed, we have never known the name of the brave officer who saved so many lives. Understandably, given the information they had, Garland police had concerns for his safety and did not want to identify him.
That changed Wednesday, in a federal courtroom in Phoenix. Garland Officer Gregory Stevens was one of the first witnesses in the trial against Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, accused of helping plan the May 3 attack and supporting the Islamic State. Kareem is believed to be the first person tried in the U.S.on ISIS-related charges.
Stevens was part of the security detail that day protecting Pamela Geller’s provocative contest. You don’t have to agree with the Geller message — free speech, she says — to understand her right to express it and for all of her 200 guests to survive doing so.
Stevens and Bruce Joiner, an unarmed Garland ISD security officer, were the first to confront Simpson and Soofi. Joiner said he won’t forget the huge grin on Simpson’s face just before the shooting started.
“I have never experienced anything like that before,” Joiner told jurors Wednesday. He survived a gunshot to the ankle.
The officers used their car to block an advancing Simpson and Soofi, who got out of their vehicle and started firing. What happened next, Stevens testified, wasn’t especially complicated: “My training kicked in, and I did what I was trained to do.”
SWAT officers, responding to the gunfire, rushed up to finish the job.
Kevin Lawrence is the executive director of the Texas Municipal Police Association, which represents most of Garland’s officers. Shortly after the terror attack was averted, he said what a lot of people, police and civilian alike, were thinking:
“That’s superhuman right there,” Lawrence said. “Think about the stress, the level of adrenaline pumping through your veins in a situation like that — one officer with a pistol against two guys who are armed to the gills with evil in their hearts.”
We didn’t know it at the time, but our editorial board named Stevens one of the finalists for Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year. In December, we didn’t know his identity, so we wrote:
We do know that he’s a veteran of many years, married with children and most recently assigned to the traffic division. We suspect he’s the type who would scoff at “superhuman” and simply argue that he was just doing his job. In a year when good police officers have soldiered on amid broad-brush criticisms of their profession when some fall short, this officer stands in for the great majority.
We hope he can accept the appreciation so many of us hold for lifesaving skill and commitment. In that light, including him among our Texan of the Year finalists seems the least we could do.
And now we can put a name with the heroism. And properly thank Stevens for all he’s done.