Feds Say Garland-Plano Gunman Could Have Been Inspired by ‘Foreign Terrorist’ Group

FBI Dallas' special agent-in-charge, Matthew DeSarno, declined to provide details on which foreign organization could have inspired the alleged shooter
FBI Dallas' special agent-in-charge, Matthew DeSarno, declined to provide details on which foreign organization could have inspired the alleged shooter Garland Police Department (Screenshot)
When Garland Police officers arrived at the crime scene in the 400 block of Forest Gate Drive early on Sunday, they found a dead body, a spokesperson said at press conference Monday. But the initial investigation got stranger from there.

The deceased, a 26-year-old named Isabella Lewis, had picked up the alleged shooter while on shift as a Lyft driver. The man who killed her then stole the car.

Shortly after noon on Sunday, the gunman went to the Plano police headquarters, where he opened fire and was ultimately shot dead. No one else was injured, authorities say. After that, authorities found a strange note in Lewis’ car.

Plano and Garland police, as well as the FBI, identified the shooter as Imran Ali Rasheed, a 33-year-old whom public records say was a Garland resident.

“Rasheed may have been inspired by a foreign terrorist organization to commit these acts,” said Matthew DeSarno, the special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Dallas office. “Haven’t found any evidence he was directed by or in contact with foreign terrorist actors. He was inspired by the rhetoric. He wasn’t directed to do this.”

During the press conference, DeSarno declined to provide further details about which organization Rasheed was supposedly inspired by, and he wouldn’t shed light on the content of the note Rasheed left behind.

DeSarno said the FBI had investigated Rasheed between 2010 and 2013 and “determined that he was not a threat.”

“At this point, we do not believe the suspect was provided assistance by others or that others were involved in the incident,” he added.

Garland police said they had no indication the shooter had specifically targeted Lewis, and Plano Police  didn’t elaborate on why he targeted police headquarters.

If the suspicion turns out to be true, it won't be the first act of ideologically motivated violence in Dallas-Fort Worth in recent years.

In May 2015, two gunmen were shot dead as they attempted to carry out an attack on the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, where the "First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" was being held by anti-Muslim groups. One of the shooters was reportedly linked online to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

In July 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson, reportedly inspired by hardline Black nationalist ideologies, shot and killed five Dallas police officers following a Black Lives Matter protest downtown.

In June 2019, Brian Clyde opened fire with an AR-15 at a federal courthouse in downtown Dallas before being fatally shot. No one was seriously injured, but federal authorities later said Clyde had been linked to an extreme right-wing ideology.

Earlier this year, the feds nabbed a Grand Prairie neo-Nazi named Christian Mackey on federal gun charges. Mackey, who allegedly encouraged others to shoot Jews and African Americans, has since pleaded guilty. 
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.