HOUSTON, TEXAS – A shooting at a popular Texas megachurch has left a child in critical condition and another man injured. On Sunday afternoon, a woman armed with a long gun and accompanied by a young child opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, roughly 6 miles from downtown Houston, before being killed by law enforcement officers on the scene. The incident has raised concerns about the latest outbreak of gun violence disrupting American life at places once considered safe, including schools, grocery stores, malls, hospitals, college campuses, and house parties.
The woman, identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, entered the church shortly before 2 p.m. wearing a trench coat and backpack. Police Chief Troy Finner stated that officers shot and killed her in self-defense after she pointed her weapon at them. Meanwhile, the young child was hit during the shooting and is currently in critical condition at the hospital. It’s unclear who fired the shot that injured the child. The injured man was shot in the leg and sought treatment at a hospital, identified as Tom George Thomas by the search warrant.
Authorities are now investigating the possible motive behind the shooting and the relationship between the woman and the child who accompanied her. The shooter used an AR-15 that had “Free Palestine” written on it, according to a federal law enforcement source. They are trying to determine whether she was politically motivated or a disturbed individual.
The shooting unfolded while the church was in between services and preparing to go into a Spanish service. The congregation was interrupted by the sound of gunshots and screams, as video footage from the church feed shows. The shooting marks the latest instance of gun violence disrupting American life at once safe places.
Following the incident, a methodical search of the church building was conducted, and authorities do not believe there is any further danger to the public. Meanwhile, authorities have searched Moreno’s home in connection with the shooting, looking for ammunition, firearms, explosives, cell phones, and computers, among other items. Governor Greg Abbott has offered the full support and resources of the state to help the community during this difficult time.
The shooting has left the community and law enforcement officers traumatized, with concerns for their mental health as well. The traumatizing incident has shaken the once safe place of worship, prompting an investigation into the woman’s possible motive and the events leading up to the shooting.