Houston, Texas – A shooter who opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, was identified as 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno. The shooter, armed with an AR-style rifle, was fatally shot by security officers at the megachurch.
The motive behind the attack at the celebrity pastor’s church remained unclear. Law enforcement found “antisemitic writings” belonging to the shooter and discovered that the rifle carried the word “Palestine” on it, though the significance of this remains unknown.
The FBI’s Special Agent in Charge Doug Williams emphasized the inevitability of an active shooter event in the city of Houston, stating that the incident was anticipated. Records show that the shooter had a history of prior arrests, including unlawful carrying of a weapon, evading arrest, and assault on a public official.
Authorities revealed that a 5-year-old boy, identified as the shooter’s son, was critically injured after being shot in the head. The child remained in critical condition as of Monday afternoon. Two off-duty officers working security at the church intervened, shooting and killing the suspect, preventing further harm to the congregation.
The shooter, wearing a trench coat and carrying a backpack, entered the church armed with a long rifle and opened fire just before 2 p.m. Sunday, causing panic among worshippers. Osteen noted that the situation could have been much worse had the shooting occurred during the larger late Sunday morning service.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner praised the officers for their swift response to the shooter. The identities of the victims were not released, and it remained unclear how the young boy was struck by gunfire.
Members of the church recounted their harrowing experiences, with one individual describing the moment he and his mother took cover during the gunfire. The shooting at the third-largest megachurch in the U.S. shocked the community and left many in fear and distress.
Joel Osteen has been the leader of Lakewood Church since 1999 and is known for promoting the prosperity gospel. His televised services reach approximately 100 countries, and the church’s arena underwent a $100 million renovation. After Hurricane Harvey, Osteen faced criticism for initially not opening the church to shelter those in need, though the church later provided assistance.