The shooter at Joel Osteen’s megachurch used a gun bearing the word “Palestine,” officials said.
The woman who was Shot and killed on Sunday This afternoon at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, he was carrying an assault rifle labeled “Palestine,” according to two senior law enforcement officials familiar with the matter.
The shooter, identified as Genesee Yvonne Moreno, 36, made several statements during the incident, but officials declined to describe them. Law enforcement officials added that Moreno had previously used another male name.
Moreno brought her young son to church with her, officials said. During the incident, the shooter said she was carrying a bomb, but a search of the vehicle showed no explosive devices, officials said.
Law enforcement records show the shooter has been arrested at least six times since 2005, including for illegally carrying a weapon, to which she pleaded guilty; evading arrest; Assaulting a public employee, who was charged with a lesser charge.
Police have publicly stated that two off-duty church officers returned fire, striking and killing the shooter around 1:50 p.m. The little girl was also injured during the accident and was in critical condition.
The boy is about 5 years old, Police Chief Troy Fenner said at a news conference on Sunday.
He added that one of the off-duty officers is an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the other is a Houston police officer.
Officials are investigating a wide range of possible motives given the writing on the weapon, but they cannot conclusively determine what led to the shooting. They did not rule out terrorism or hate crime motives.
Austin said the shooting occurred between services as people were arriving for the Spanish service. About 45,000 people attend services there each week, making it one of the largest megachurches in the country.
Austin said he was “in a fog” after the violence and was keeping the wounded in his prayers.
“We don’t understand why all these things are happening,” the priest told reporters on Sunday. “But we know that God is in control.”
In a subsequent statement on Facebook, Osteen urged his congregation to rely on their faith to deal with the pain.
“Today’s events have devastated our community and we are grateful for the quick action taken by law enforcement,” he said. “Together, we will get through this tragedy and stand firm in our commitment to love and support each other,” he added.