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Female shooter with child killed by cops outside Joel Osteen’s Houston-area church, minor suffers bullet wounds

A woman armed with a long gun took her young child to Joel Osteen’s Houston-area mega-church on Sunday and opened fire — leading cops to shoot her dead and the child to suffer critical gunshot wounds.

The woman, dressed in a trench coat and carrying a backpack, stormed Osteen’s Lakewood Church just before 2 p.m. with the boy, about 4 or 5 years old, and began shooting before two off-duty law enforcement officers fatally shot her, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at a news briefing Sunday. 

The young boy was shot and critically wounded though it’s unclear by whose gun. He was rushed to Texas Children’s Hospital, where he remains in critical condition, officials said. 

A 57-year-old man, described as a bystander, was shot in the leg and transported to a local hospital in stable condition, Finner said. 

The shooter — believed to be between 30 and 35 years old — claimed to also have a bomb and sprayed an unknown substance on the ground before she was shot dead, the chief said. However, authorities conducted a sweep of the area and found no explosives on her person or in her car. 

The gunfire began between services — before a Spanish-language mass was scheduled, Osteen said at the news conference — adding that the shooting could have been much worse. The mega-church has an average attendance of 45,000 people. 

The Lakewood Church
Harris County Sheriff’s deputies reportedly shot a “possible shooter” who may have had a bomb strapped to her chest outside Joel Olsteen’s Houston-area church. Google Maps

“I could only imagine what could only imagine if it would have happened during the 11 o’clock service,” he said at the scene. 

The pastor said he felt like he was “kinda in a fog” following the shooting. 

“But we’re gonna stray strong, we’re gonna continue to move forward,” Osteen said. “There are forces of evil but the forces that are for us, the forces of God are stronger than that.”

What we know about the shooting at Joel Osteen's Houston church

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, has been identified as the suspect who opened fire at Joel Osteen’s church in Houston, Texas on Feb. 11, 2023, before she was fatally shot by police officers.

Moreno walked into Lakewood Church, with a 7-year-old boy, before a Spanish-language service started at 2 p.m. She then started shooting as hundreds of people were taking their seats.

A 57-year-old man, described as a bystander, was shot in the leg and transported to a local hospital.?The 7-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the head and is currently in critical condition.

A witness told ABC 13 that she heard gunshots from the choir room, which sent churchgoers into a panic.

“The whole church started praying and declaring Jesus’ name,” she said. “I was like, ‘This might be the last time I get to pray, that I get to glorify the name of Jesus, so I’m going to do this.’”

Osteen, 60, said during a press conference Sunday that the tragedy could have been much worse had it happened during the earlier or later Sunday services, which draw larger crowds. 

Police say Moreno claimed to have a bomb and sprayed an unknown substance on the ground before she was shot dead. The 36-year-old has a record of mental health issues and reportedly used a weapon with a “Palestine” sticker during the shooting.

Detectives said Moreno may have fired as many as 12 shots into the church before she was taken down. 

A witness told ABC 13 the station that she heard gunshots from the choir room, which sent churchgoers into a panic.

“The whole church started praying and declaring Jesus’ name,” she said. “I was like, ‘This might be the last time I get to pray, that I get to glorify the name of Jesus, so I’m going to do this.’”

A post on X from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was headed to the scene, but said the Houston police would update the public. X/@SheriffEd_HCSO

Another congregant told the local station that he heard between 20 to 30 gunshots as he ran out with his three young daughters. Officials could not immediately confirm how many shots were fired. 

The Houston police have asked the public to stay away from the area, which is about six miles from downtown Houston.

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